From the Latin word for white


by Betsy Carnie


Genevieve Jacobs

The simplest way to separate a yolk from the albumen is to use your hand as a sieve. Gently cup the yolk so the white slips through your fingers.  

Albumen (noun) is the name for that part of the egg commonly referred to as egg white and is derived from the Latin word for white, albus. In English, we get the word albino from the same Latin root, as well as our word album, a blank or essential white book into which memorabilia, photographs, etc., are inserted. The Old English word alb (before 1100) is a long, white linen robe. The word alb predates the introduction of the word albumen (1599). Alb is also a common crossword puzzle word.

Albumin (noun) is the protein found in milk and egg whites. It is borrowed from the French word albumine, meaning “egg white.” Alabaster, a pure white and slightly translucent stone, is also likely related. In The Rape of Lucrece, Shakespeare celebrated the image of a snow white love, describing “Her azure veins, her alabaster skin…”