Preferred IUPAC name

In chemical nomenclature, a preferred IUPAC name (PIN) is a unique name, assigned to a chemical substance and preferred among the possible names generated by IUPAC nomenclature. The "preferred IUPAC nomenclature" provides a set of rules for choosing between multiple possibilities in situations where it is important to decide on a unique name. It is intended for use in legal and regulatory situations.[1]

Currently, preferred IUPAC names are written only for part of the organic compounds (see below). Rules for the remaining organic and inorganic compounds are still under development.[2] The "Preferred names in the nomenclature of organic compounds" (Draft 7 October 2004) replace two former publications: the "Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry", 1979 (the Blue Book) and "A Guide to IUPAC Nomenclature of Organic Compounds, Recommendations 1993".[3][4] As of May 2010, these draft recommendations have yet to gain formal approval.


A preferred IUPAC name or PIN is a name that is preferred among two or more IUPAC names. An IUPAC name is a systematic name that meets the recommended IUPAC rules. IUPAC names include retained names. A general IUPAC name is any IUPAC name that is not a "preferred IUPAC name". A retained name is a traditional or otherwise often used name, usually a trivial name, that may be used in IUPAC nomenclature.[5]

Since systematic names often are not human-readable a PIN may be a retained name. Both "PINs" and "retained names" have to be chosen (and established by IUPAC) explicitly, unlike other IUPAC names, which automatically arise from IUPAC nomenclatural rules.

A preselected name is a preferred name chosen among two or more names for parent hydrides or other parent structures that do not contain carbon (inorganic parents). "Preselected names" are used in the nomenclature of organic compounds as the basis for PINs for organic derivatives. They are needed for derivatives of organic compounds that do not contain carbon themselves.[5] A preselected name is not necessarily a PIN in inorganic chemical nomenclature.

Basic principles

The systems of chemical nomenclature developed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) have traditionally concentrated on ensuring that chemical names are unambiguous, that is that a name can only refer to one substance. However, a single substance can have more than one acceptable name, like toluene, which may also be correctly named as "methylbenzene" or "phenylmethane". Some alternative names remain available as "retained names" for more general contexts. For example, tetrahydrofuran remains an unambiguous and acceptable name for the common organic solvent, even if the preferred IUPAC name is "oxolane".[6]

Substitutive nomenclature (replacement of hydrogen atoms in the parent structure) is used most extensively, for example "ethoxyethane" instead of diethyl ether and "tetrachloromethane" instead of carbon tetrachloride. Functional class nomenclature (also known as radicofunctional nomenclature) is used for acid anhydrides, esters, acyl halides and pseudohalides and salts. Also skeletal replacement operations, additive and subtractive operations and conjunctive operations are applied.[7]

Retained IUPAC names

The number of retained non-systematic, trivial names of simple organic compounds (for example formic acid and acetic acid) has been reduced considerably for preferred IUPAC names, although a larger set of retained names is available for general nomenclature. The traditional names of simple monosaccharides, α-amino acids and a large number of natural products have been retained as preferred IUPAC names; in these cases the systematic names are very complicated and virtually never used.

Scope of the nomenclature for organic compounds

In IUPAC nomenclature all compounds containing carbon are considered as organic compounds. Organic nomenclature only applies to organic compounds containing elements from the Groups 13 through 17. Organometallic compounds of the Groups 1 through 12 are not covered by organic nomenclature.[5][8]

Notes and references

  1. Preferred names in the nomenclature of organic compounds, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, retrieved 2009-11-22.
  2. IUPAC Project: Preferred IUPAC Names (PINs) for Inorganic Compounds
  3. IUPAC Provisional Recommendations 2004 CONTENTS
  4. IUPAC Provisional Recommendations 2004 Complete draft version
  5. 1 2 3 IUPAC Provisional Recommendations 2004, par. 10-12, Chapter 1
  6. IUPAC Provisional Recommendations 2004, Rule P-53.2.2, Chapter5
  7. IUPAC Provisional Recommendations 2004, P-12.1, Chapter 1
  8. IUPAC Provisional Recommendations 2004, P-69.0 Organometallic compounds
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