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:
“[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)
“The sacrifice to Legba was completed; the Master of the Crossroads had taken the loas mysterious routes back to his native Guinea.
Meanwhile, the feast continued. The peasants were forgetting their misery: dance and alcohol numbed them, carrying away their shipwrecked conscience in the unreal and shady regions where the savage madness of the African gods lay waiting.”
—Jacques Roumain (19071945)