In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxyl functional group (-OH) is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms.
An important class of alcohols are the simple acyclic alcohols, the general formula for which is CnH2n+1OH. Of those, ethanol (C2H5OH) is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, and in common speech the word alcohol refers specifically to ethanol.
Other alcohols are usually described with a clarifying adjective, as in isopropyl alcohol (propan-2-ol) or wood alcohol (methyl alcohol, or methanol). The suffix -ol appears in the IUPAC chemical name of all substances where the hydroxyl group is the functional group with the highest priority; in substances where a higher priority group is present the prefix hydroxy- will appear in the IUPAC name. The suffix -ol in non-systematic names (such as paracetamol or cholesterol) also typically indicates that the substance includes a hydroxyl functional group and, so, can be termed an alcohol. But many substances, particularly sugars (examples glucose and sucrose) contain hydroxyl functional groups without using the suffix.
Famous quotes containing the word alcohol:
“No power on earth or above the bottomless pit has such influence to terrorize and make cowards of men as the liquor power. Satan could not have fallen on a more potent instrument with which to thrall the world. Alcohol is king!”
—Eliza Mother Stewart (1816c. 1908)
“[T]ea, that uniquely English meal, that unnecessary collation at which no stimulantsneither alcohol nor meatare served, that comforting repast of which to partake is as good as second childhood.”
—Angela Carter (19401992)
“Men can intoxicate themselves with ideas as effectually as with alcohol or with bang and produce, be dint of serious thinking, mental conditions hardly distinguishable from monomania.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley (182595)