Header image of wall of bricks Open menu Close menu


Saturated straight-chain (aliphatic) hydrocarbons.

An invented ending, on the model of Greek noun suffixes.

Early members of the hydrocarbon series are identified using existing common names for related compounds: methane, ethane, and butane; later members are named using number prefixes, based on how many carbon atoms there are in the molecule: pentane, hexane, octane. The general term for a member of the series, of formula CnH2n+2, is alkane (from German Alkohol, alcohol). These forms occur widely in chemical names of compounds: polyurethane, isobutane, 2-methylpentane. For the related adjectival ending, see ‑yl.

Copyright © Michael Quinion 2008–. All rights reserved. Your comments are very welcome.