Looking at the Wikipedia article for polyphenol, I was struck by how the monomer units shown are all substituted meta or ortho for the hydroxyl groups.


I assumed, naively, that polyhydroquinones would be considered polyphenols, but I am uncertain now. From what I can see, there is no IUPAC definition of polyphenols, so I am interested to know what commonly accepted criteria (and what contentious aspects, if any) are there for polyphenols.


The WBBSH definition states that polyphenols are defined as:

  1. generally moderately water-soluble compounds
  2. with molecular weight of 500–4000 Da
  3. with >12 phenolic hydroxyl groups
  4. with 5–7 aromatic rings per 1000 Da

This is the most widely accepted definition. However, due to the increase in research, there is a proposed Quideau definition stating

“The term "polyphenol" should be used to define compounds exclusively derived from the shikimate/phenylpropanoid and/or the polyketide pathway, featuring more than one phenolic unit and deprived of nitrogen-based functions.”

However, this is not an official definition (yet)

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for the Wikipedia link, I have yet to follow it to its source $\endgroup$ – JSCoder says Reinstate Monica Aug 28 '18 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ I read all these criteria on the Wikipedia page as well, but yeah, I don't know why they are picked as the criteria for polyphenols when it seems like a larger class of chemicals would fit... $\endgroup$ – selkie222 Aug 30 '18 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ @selkie222 apparently it links to a book by Haslam himself that I do not have time to check out from my university library $\endgroup$ – JSCoder says Reinstate Monica Aug 30 '18 at 13:09

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