20. The Variety of Organic         Compounds   Previous PageNext Page

Some of the most common alcohols are represented above. The traditional names methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butyl alcohols are familiar, but "amyl" alcohol instead of "pentyl" for the five-carbon alcohol is an historical oddity. From hexyl alcohol on, the Greek numerical prefixes are used. In the systematic nomenclature, alcohols are identified by a single name ending in "-ol", beginning with methanol, ethanol, propanol, butanol, pentanol, hexanol, and continuing with the Greek prefix for the number of


atoms in the longest carbon chain that can be traced through the molecule.

The position of the -OH group is identified by the number of the carbon atom to which it is attached. Thus n-propyl alcohol (above) is 1-propanol in the systematic naming, and isopropyl alcohol is 2-propanol because the -OH group is attached to the second carbon atom in the chain.

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