What is the difference between an esterification and a transesterification. Esterification objective is the formation of an ester by reacting an alcohol and a carboxylic acid. I am more concerned transesterification or reference to a journal article.

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    $\begingroup$ esterification is the formation of an ester from an acid and alcohol, transesterification is the switching of an existing esters alcohol fragment for another alcohol. $\endgroup$ May 7, 2015 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ yes I know. But is there any definition for it? I want to use it in my paper-work. Btw Thx very much! $\endgroup$
    – user16060
    May 7, 2015 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ @user16060 That is the definition as AngusTheMan stated $\endgroup$
    – bon
    May 8, 2015 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ Angus, esters can be made in many ways, your definition is the "Fischer esterification" only. Also once they switch they are no longer alcohols. Ahem.....Homework question! $\endgroup$
    – DrAzulene
    Jul 5, 2016 at 19:54

1 Answer 1


You are getting too specific as though these are biological processes. They do not have to be... ANY ester made is an esterification reaction.

So any ester can be transesterified into a different alkyl alkanoate and any carboxylic acid or derivative (even nitriles) can be esterified. See the diagram:

enter image description here


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