The prefix "per-" appears in the names of many compounds, such as in perchlorate, persulfate, peroxide. What does it mean?

  • $\begingroup$ See my comment in the thread under my answer here. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2015 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


Per- can mean a number of different things, depending on the context. It can mean that there is a peroxi bond(oxygen-oxygen bond) in the system, persulfate is a good example of this.

More generally it tends to mean that the compound is the most completely altered product of a certain(possibly hypothetical) reaction. For example perchlorates and permanganates are the most completely oxygenated compounds of chlorine and manganese, respectively. This also describes another common use of per-, perhalogenated compounds. In that context, it usually means that all hydrogens present in the parent compound, that were bonded to a carbon, have been replaced with a halogen, for example perfluoroethylene (C2F4, also known as tetrafluoroethylene, the monomer of Teflon(PTFE))

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    $\begingroup$ According to current IUPAC recommendations, the prefix "per-" is no longer recommended for organic compounds in which all substitutable hydrogen atoms are completely substituted (e.g. perfluoroheptane). $\endgroup$
    – user7951
    Nov 9, 2015 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Loong are there substituting recommendations or must one say octadecafluoroheptane? $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Nov 9, 2015 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan The preferred IUPAC name for perfluoroheptane $(\ce{C7F16})$ is hexadecafluoroheptane. Note that all locants are omitted, i.e. the name is not 1,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,7-hexadecafluoroheptane. $\endgroup$
    – user7951
    Nov 9, 2015 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ I came here looking for this compound - perfluorobenzene - which has all its hydrogens replaced by a halogen, am commenting if anyone else googles this as well. $\endgroup$ Jan 7, 2018 at 16:17

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