Learning organic chemistry is like trying to work in a foreign country where if you don’t know the language, it is going to be very difficult to learn how to do your job.  You have just been transported to the mythical country of “ochemia”, a small island nation in the south Pacific, where your job is to write chemistry reactions. 

Frequently, in a chemistry lecture, professors start tossing out organic chemistry terms far too quickly.  Because students aren’t fluent in “ochemia” yet, they need to translate each word in their head to understand what the instructor has just said.  By the time this mentally translation is done, the student has just missed the next sentence and has lost half of the lecture.  Our goal is to get as fluent as we can in the language of chemistry as quickly as we can.  Here are some terms it will be helpful to memorize so that you don’t have to do a mental translation when you hear them:

Meth = 1

Eth= 2

Prop = 3

But = 4

Pent = 5

Hex = 6

 Hept = 7

Oct = 8

Non = 9

Dec = 10

Electrophile = wants electrons, has a positive or partial positive charge

Nucleophile = has electrons, has a negative or partial negative charge

Halogen = F, Cl, Br, I

Aprotic solvents = do not contain OH or NH bonds

Protic solvents = contain OH or NH bonds

Lewis Acid = electron acceptor

Lewis Base = electron donor

Carbonyl group =  (C=O)

Cis = same side of a double bond or ring

Trans = opposite sides of a double bond or ring



A comprehensive organic chemistry glossary can be found at: http://www.chemhelper.com/glossary.html


As always, for more help in organic chemistry, please go to Organic Chemistry