Etymology: < French lécithine (N. T. Gobley 1850, in Jrnl. de Pharm. et de Chim. XVII. 411), < Greek λέκιθος yolk of egg
a. Any of a group of phospholipids found in plants and animals which are esters of a phosphatidic acid with choline and on hydrolysis yield choline, phosphoric acid, glycerol, and two fatty acids; also used as a generic name for these compounds.
b. A commercial mixture of lecithin with other phosphatides and often other lipids obtained from natural products and used industrially, esp. that from soya beans. (OED)
"Physical chemical studies of short-chain lecithin homologues. I. Influence of the chain length of the fatty acid ester and of electrolytes on the critical micelle concentration", Tausk et al., Biophysical Chemistry 1:175 (1973)
I guess these days we'd just say "phospholipids"? Not quite sure what the significance of the choline part of the molecule is that it deserves its own term.