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noun, plural: alcohols

(chemistry) An organic compound containing one or more hydroxyl groups bound to a saturated carbon atom


Alcohol is an organic compound with one or more hydroxyl groups. The hydroxyl functional group is bound to a saturated carbon atom.1 Alcohols belong to a series of volatile hydroxyl compounds that are made from hydrocarbons by distillation. The general formula for alcohol is CnH2n+1OH.

Common alcohols include ethanol (the type found in alcoholic beverages), methanol (found in methylated spirit and can cause blindness and other nervous system damage if ingested), and propanol.

The term is originally used to refer to ethanol, which is the main alcohol component of alcoholic beverages. Thus, the term is also commonly used to pertain to an alcoholic beverage.

Related term(s):

1 IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version: (2006–) "Alcohols".