The General Idea

Chemistry has its own language. As both a chemist, and a person who is fascinated by words, this is a fact that I find endlessly interesting. It is very easy for chemists to forget that some of the words we use every day are nonsense to the wider population. It is also very easy to use these words without knowing where they originated or why they came to gain their current meaning. Personally, I am much happier using scientific terms when I fully understand their meaning, and I find this much easier if I understand the derivation of such words. My theory in writing this blog is that other people will have a similar opinion.

While thinking along these lines a year or so ago, I came across an interesting blog about the development of the systematic names for alkanes, and was amazed at how little of it I knew. In an afternoon of trying to avoid PhD work I decided the information lent itself to an infographic and produced the one above. After a reasonable amount of good feedback from friends and colleagues the idea for this blog was born. The general idea is to research the etymology of chemical names and produce more graphics like this one in the hope that some people out there find it as interesting as I do!

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