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Phenyl is a functional group with an aromatic ring bonded to another group. And, phenol is a molecule that is just a phenyl bonded to a hydroxyl group.

However, some sources consider phenol itself a functional group. Are they both functional groups, or is phenol just a molecule?

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Phenol is both a molecule and a functional group (or at least a class of molecules). IUPAC has the definitive answer on the matter:

Phenols:

Compounds having one or more hydroxy groups attached to a benzene or other arene ring, e.g. 2-naphthol

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  • $\begingroup$ So in addition to a molecule, are phenols only a class of molecules? Or are they also functional groups? $\endgroup$ – Ashwin Ramaswami Aug 24 '14 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ @epicfaace You can have a phenol moiety, which is a phenyl moiety with at least one hydroxyl group attached. (But I would still consider this kind of nomenclature a little odd.) This way it would/ could be considered a functional group. Going with compound class is more concise however. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Aug 25 '14 at 3:50

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