Is there a common nomenclature (not necessarily IUPAC) for naming linear alkanes with $n$ carbons without resorting to Greek/Latin numerical prefixes (hex-, hept-, etc.)?

For instance, is there a name for the higher linear alkane of $\mathrm{50}$ carbon atoms other than n-pentacontane? ("Not necessarily IUPAC" is meant in the same sense that $\alpha$, $\beta$, and $\gamma$ nomenclature don't follow IUPAC rules but are nevertheless often used to designate relative positions of carbon atoms)

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    $\begingroup$ Informally you can address them as C50, once you set up the stage. But you should feed the IUPAC first. $\endgroup$
    – ssavec
    Feb 25, 2016 at 9:28
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect the most compact way (and what most chemists would use) is to specify the generic formula like CH3(CH2)n(CH3) which is unambiguous and saves having to know any latin or greek numeric prefixes for big numbers. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Feb 25, 2016 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ ^^ matt_black's post definitely seems, to me, to describe a method more common than using the Latin/Greek method, even. $\endgroup$ Feb 25, 2016 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ That condensed formula certainly satisfies what I'm looking for, though I was personally hoping for something that rolls off the tongue a little more concisely. (Though of course that is not a qualification for being a answer.) In the same sense that the point group associated with a tetrahedral molecule can be concisely referred to as $T_d$ $\endgroup$
    – Bob
    Feb 26, 2016 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ Great idea, something like n-[50]carbane would be useful. $\endgroup$
    – mykhal
    Apr 22, 2017 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


This does not answer you question, just mentions an alternative name that does have that count arabic numeral in the name, but is not eliminating the greek/latin prefixes. One could use IR-7.4 INORGANIC CHAINS AND RINGS nomenclature that would be impractical, e.g. the mentioned n-pentacontane would become dohectahydridopentacontacarby[50]catena or maybe even 1,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,11,11,12,12,13,13,14,14,15,15,16,16,17,17,18,18,19,19,20,20,21,21,22,22,23,23,24,24,25,25,26,26,27,27,28,28,29,29,30,30,31,31,32,32,33,33,34,34,35,35,36,36,37,37,38,38,39,39,40,40,41,41,42,42,43,43,44,44,45,45,46,46,47,47,48,48,49,49,50,50,50-dohectahydridopentacontacarby[50]catena (not to confuse with catenanes).

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    $\begingroup$ Bliss you :-) $\text{ }$ $\endgroup$
    – ParaH2
    May 29, 2017 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ That sounds even worse than using the simpler nomenclature that comes from greek numbers. It also seems way unnecessary. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    May 29, 2017 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for the late response. I think this is a little unwieldy, to be honest, and I'm not sure what benefits this would confer. $\endgroup$
    – Bob
    Jun 21, 2017 at 6:29

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