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A classification of organic compounds that contain one or more hydroxyl groups at the end of a hydrocarbon chain. Alcohols with one hydroxyl group are called monohydric. Examples are: methanol, ethanol, Phenol and Sterol. Alcohols with two hydroxyl groups are called dihydric or diols. An example is Glycol. Glycerol is a trihydric alcohol (3 hydroxyl groups). As a group, compounds with more than one hydroxyl are referred to as polyols. Many alcoholic compounds occur naturally in plants while others are synthetically produced. They are used for solvents, beverages, plasticizers and fuels. Commonly, the term alcohol refers to ethanol and intoxicating beverages containing ethanol. Prior to 1800s, alcoholic compounds were called spirits.

Synonyms and Related Terms

ethanol; spirits


Properties of Common Solvents

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971
  • Theodore J. Reinhart, 'Glossary of Terms', Engineered Plastics, ASM International, 1988
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998