Organic Chemistry Glossary

Organic Chemistry is full of numerous similar sounding terms, and chemicals, which is why most labs have barcode labels, and a wireless barcode scanner. The terms and resources below should make organic chemistry a bit less confusing:

Organic Chemistry Terms:

absolute zero: The temperature where all movement stops even on a molecular level, it is also lowest temperature on the Kelvin scale.

acid: A liquid with a pH less than seven.

adsorption: When rather than being absorbed a substance collects upon the surface of another substance. More

alloy: A combination of metals usually made to produce a metal with stronger properties of both.

amino acid: A combination of amines and acids, which provide the basis for proteins.

asymmetric: Molecules that are not symmetrical.

base anhydride: Type of oxide that can form a base if water is added.

base: A liquid with a pH greater than seven.

binary compound: A compound that consists of specifically two elements.

binding energy: Energy that holds nucleus' neutrons and protons together.

buffer: A liquid that can hinder a change in the pH when added to an acid or a base.

calorimetry: Used to describe the study of the flow of heat.

catalyst: A substance that can make a chemical reaction faster but which is not actually needed to produce the reaction nor is used in the reaction.

chain reaction: When a reaction provides the agents for a subsequent reaction.

chemical properties: Properties that require a chemical reaction to observe.

chirality: Used to describe when symmetric parts of a molecule are not super imposable on one another.

circuit: The path through which electrons flow.

colligative property: A solution property that changes if the concentration of that solution changes.

combustion: When a compound is changed into water, heat, and CO2 as a result of combining with oxygen.

compound: A combination of elements into a more complex molecule.

concentration: The amount of a substance dissolved in a liquid.

condensation: When vapor changes into a liquid.

conductance: A the amount of electricity which can flow through an object.

constitution: The types and totals of atoms which makeup a molecule.

continuous spectrum: A spectrum all the colors of light.

covalent bond: A bond where atoms share elections.

critical mass: The amount of a specific radioactive material it takes to create a chain reaction.

decomposition: When a complex molecule becomes broken apart to create two or more smaller ones.

denature: When the structure of proteins beak down from exposure to heat.

diffusion: When particles move to a lower area of concentration from a high area of concentration.

dilution: When a substance, called a solvent, is added to a suspension to reduce the concentration.

distillation: When a mix of liquids is separated by heating it up because one liquid boils at a different temperature than the other.

electrolysis: When a compound is separated by the use of electricity.

element: A substance that cannot be divded chemically into component substances.

emulsion: When drops of a liquid are suspended in another liquid.

energy level: The current level of energy an electron has within an atom.

equilibrium: When the forward and reverse rates are equal in a chemical reaction.

equivalence point: When a solution is completely neutral in a titration.

excited state: The high level of energy electrons can achieve as energy is added.

group: A column within the periodic table of elements.

half-life: The time it takes for a decaying radioactive substance to be reduced by half.

heat: A measure of the kinetic energy within a system of particles.

hybrid orbitals: Orbitals created by mixing other orbitals.

hybridization: The process wherein orbitals of similar energies are combined to form a set of equivlent 'hybrid' orbital.

hydrolysis: A chemical reaction where water is introduced in another substance usually to separate it.

immiscible: When substances cannot dissolve into one another.

indicators: Compunds which change colors at different pH levels.

intermediate: Molecules that exist only during a chemical reaction; not before or after the reaction. 

intermolecular force: The force between two molecules.

ion: An atom which has lost or gained electrons and become charged.

ionic bond: A bond formed when charge particles stick together.

ionization energy: The energy needed to remove an electron from a gaseous atom.

irreversible reaction: A chemical reaction after which the resulting agents cannot be changed back into the reactions ingredients.

limiting reagent: A chemical in a reaction that is used up before other ingredients in the reaction, thus limiting how much of the resulting substance can be produced.

lone pair/unshared pair: Two electrons that are not shared between atoms within a molecule.

mass: The measure of an object's matter.

molecular formula: The formula that shows all the atoms a molecule consist of.

molecule: The smallest piece of an atom that can exist in a free state.

neutralization reaction: A reaction between an acid and a base that results in salt and water.

node: Part of the orbital area in an atom where it is impossible to find an electron.

nonpolar covalent bond: A bond where elections are equally shared between two atoms.

nuclear fusion: When parts of the nucleus of atoms are forced together to create a new one.

nuclear reaction: When a reaction affects the nucleus of an atom.

nucleons: The particles in the nucleus of an atom.

orbital: The area of an atom where electrons orbit it.

osmosis: When a liquid flows through a semi permeable membrane.

percent yield: The percentage of yield that occurred versus the theoretical yield.

physical property: Properties of a substance that can be observed without using a chemical reaction that would change the substance.

potential energy: Energy which something has but which is not being used, such as a motionless rock at the top of a cliff.

protecting group: A ground used in preventing undesired reactions.

radioactive: Describes a substance with an unstable nucleus.

redox reaction: A reaction consisting of both reduction and oxidation.

saturated: When a liquid has dissolved as much of a substance as it can.

specific heat capacity: The heat needed to raise a gram of a substance temperature by a degree.

spectrophotometer: Tool that measures the absorption or emission of electromagnetic radiation.

spontaneous change: Changes that occur on their own. 

suspension: A mixture of solids in a liquid.

synthesis: Describes when a molecule consists of two or more smaller ones.

temperature: The measure of the kinetic energy present in a system.

unit cell: The smallest part of a crystal that could be used to create the whole crystal.

unsaturated: When a liquid has not absorbed so much of a substance that it cannot absorb more.

vaporization: When you heat a liquid and it turns into a gas.

Sources & Links to additional information: