Chemical nomenclature seems to be the way chemistry "talks", allied with the mathemathics. But where to start?... and what reasons and theories are behind? Some "names" come from latin... I know there are rules IUPAC etc, but it is so demanding and exaustive to learn all that rules at once, for organic and inorganic chemistry. Maybe there are reasons and rules that help us to name a chemical or compound... Since I am interested in metallurgy, can you give me some advice to start? To associate theory to the formula, ad strutural formula, it would be nice. The implicit "why" in everthing included is always welcome.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Chemistry.SE. As you say, there is an awfully large amount of nomenclature, not to mention that additional jargon referring to our methods, techniques, instrumentation, etc. There is a reason that it is normally broken up into smaller chunks and spread out over an entire four year degree in chemistry. Oddly enough, the nomenclature of metals alloys is one of the few types that is rarely taught. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Oct 19, 2013 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


Chemical nomenclature is mixture of historical traits, empirical knowledge and little bit of systematics. And as you mentioned, it is exhaustive to learn all at once.

To understand the nomenclature, you must understand the systems themselves. Because it's their structure and reactivity which is reflected in the name.

This makes an unfortunate cyclic dependency. To start studying any given chemistry branch, you must know its language. But without knowing the science behind, the language does not make sense. It's like that and you probably cannot do anything about it, just cut this circle and crunch through the nomenclature. It will start to make sense, once you get sufficiently deep. Additionally, the "why" is good indicator. Once you have enough knowledge to understand the answer why it is named so, than you can probably answer yourself.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.