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Substituted phenols or polyhydroxy phenols have their general name apart form IUPAC names. The general names comes from the source it is found like:-

  1. Catechol (1,2-dihydroxybenzene)- obtained from catechu
  2. Cresol (methylphenol) - obtained from creosote, a component of coal tar
  3. Gallol (1,2,3-Trihydroxybenzene) - synthesized from gallic acid which is obtained from oak galls, not a compound of gallium which many people get confused.

But what about resorcinol? Why is it named so? Is it resourceful? It is primarily obtained from argan oil. So, it should be named as arganol. But it is not so.

Same thing happens with phloroglucinol. Various sources are there but none of them matches with the general name.

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

For resorcinol, the naming is covered in a footnote to the Wikipedia article:

"Wir nennen den neuen Körper, da wir gefunden haben, dass er auch aus dem Ammoniakgummiharz erhalten werden kann, Resorcin, um an seine Entstehung aus Harzen und seine Beziehung zum Orcin zu erinnern." (We name the new substance, since we've found that it can be obtained from ammoniated resin gum, resorcin, in order to recall its creation from resin and its relation to orcin [i.e., orcinol].)

Which is itself a quote from H. Hlasiwetz and L. Barth (1864) "Ueber einen neuen, dem Orcin homologen Körper", Annalen der Chemie, 130 (3) : 354-359.

At some point the ending -ol got added, to reflect the alcohol moieties in the compound.

Then name orcinol itself is derived from its association with orcein, a dye substance derived from orchil lichens.

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the word resorcinol is:

Late 19th century: from the earlier term resorcin + -ol.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the origin of the word resorcin is:

res- (from Latin resina resin) + orcin, a phenol ($\ce{C7H8O2}$)

It appears that the compound is named the way it is due to the original Latin-derived names for the compound(s) to indicate a phenol derived from resin.

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