1844, from French protéine, coined 1838 by Dutch chemist Gerhard Johan Mulder (1802-1880), perhaps on suggestion of Berzelius, from Greek prōteios "the first quality," from prōtos "first" (see proto-) + -ine (2).
Originally a theoretical substance thought to be a constituent of food essential to life, further studies of the substances he was working with overthrew this, but the words protein and proteid continued to be used in international work on the matter and also for other organic compounds; the modern use as a general name for a class of bodies arose in German. The confusion became so great a committee was set up in 1907 to sort out the nomenclature, which it did, giving protein its modern meaning ("class of organic compounds forming an important part of all living organisms") and banishing proteid.
Proto-Indo-European root forming prepositions, etc., meaning "forward," and, by extension, "in front of, before, first, chief, toward, near, against," etc.
It forms all or part of: afford; approach; appropriate; approve; approximate; barbican; before; deprive; expropriate; far; first; for; for-; fore; fore-; forefather; foremost; former (adj.); forth; frame; frau; fret; Freya; fro; froward; from; furnish; furniture; further; galore; hysteron-proteron; impervious; improbity; impromptu; improve; palfrey; par (prep.); para- (1) "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal;" paradise; pardon; paramount; paramour; parvenu; pellucid; per; per-; percent; percussion; perennial; perestroika; perfect; perfidy; perform; perfume; perfunctory; perhaps; peri-; perish; perjury; permanent; permeate; permit; pernicious; perpendicular; perpetual; perplex; persecute; persevere; perspective; perspire; persuasion; pertain; peruse; pervade; pervert; pierce; portray; postprandial; prae-; Prakrit; pre-; premier; presbyter; Presbyterian; preterite; pride; priest; primal; primary; primate; primavera; prime; primeval; primitive; primo; primogenitor; primogeniture; primordial; primus; prince; principal; principle; prior; pristine; private; privilege; privy; pro (n.2) "a consideration or argument in favor;" pro-; probably; probe; probity; problem; proceed; proclaim; prodigal; produce; profane; profess; profile; profit; profound; profuse; project; promise; prompt; prone; proof; proper; property; propinquity; prophet; prose; prostate; prosthesis; protagonist; Protean; protect; protein; Proterozoic; protest; proto-; protocol; proton; protoplasm; Protozoa; proud; prove; proverb; provide; provoke; prow; prowess; proximate; Purana; purchase; purdah; reciprocal; rapprochement; reproach; reprove; veneer.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pari "around, about, through," parah "farther, remote, ulterior," pura "formerly, before," pra- "before, forward, forth;" Avestan pairi- "around," paro "before;" Hittite para "outside of," Greek peri "around, about, near, beyond," pera "across, beyond," paros "before," para "from beside, beyond," pro "before;" Latin pro "before, for, on behalf of, instead of," porro "forward," prae "before," per "through;" Old Church Slavonic pra-dedu "great-grandfather;" Russian pere- "through;" Lithuanian per "through;" Old Irish ire "farther," roar "enough;" Gothic faura "before," Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of," (adv.) "before, previously," fram "forward, from," feor "to a great distance, long ago;" German vor "before, in front of;" Old Irish air- Gothic fair-, German ver-, Old English fer-, intensive prefixes.
also collogen, structural protein of connective tissue, 1843, from French collagène, from Latinized form of Greek kolla "glue" + -gen "giving birth to" (see -gen). Related: Collagenous.
1938, coined, according to DuPont, from a random generic syllable nyl- + -on, a common ending in fiber names (compare rayon and later Dacron), said to be ultimately from cotton. "Consumer Reports" in 1939 called it "duPont's much-publicised new miracle yarn, which is scheduled to appear in 5,000,000 stockings next year and which is meantime giving rise to many rumors, hopes and fears." As an adjective from 1939. Nylons for "nylon stockings" is from 1940.
Nylon is the generic name chosen by the Dupont Company for a group of materials classed as synthetic linear superpolymers. It has also been defined as a "Man made protein-like chemical product (polyamide) which may be formed into fibers, bristles, sheets, and other forms, characterized when drawn by extreme toughness, elasticity, and strength." ["The Michigan Technic," August 1945]