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I have read many books on standard electrode potential and they define the term in various ways but I just can’t seem to get an intuitive idea of it.

$$\ce{Cu^2+ + 2e- <=> Cu}$$

Standard electrode potential, $E= 0.34\ \mathrm{V}$

Does this mean that when $1\ \mathrm{C}$ of charge passes from the hydrogen half cell to copper half cell, $0.34\ \mathrm{J}$ of energy is released?

$$\ce{Zn^2+ + 2e- <=> Zn}$$

Standard electrode potential, $E= -0.76\ \mathrm{V}$

Does this mean that when $1\ \mathrm{C}$ of charge passes from the hydrogen half cell to zinc half cell, $0.76\ \mathrm{J}$ is absorbed?

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migrated from physics.stackexchange.com Jan 14 '14 at 9:59

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The absolute electrode potential, i.e. the actual volts between electrode and electrolyte, is incredibly difficult to measure accurately. Instead we simplify: declare the hydrogen electrode potential to be zero, when actually it's roughly +4.4V @25C deg. Then measure other electrode potentials using a standard hydrogen electrode to contact the electrolyte.

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