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10 Molecules With Funny or Weird Names

10 Molecules With Funny or Weird Names


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Everything is made up of atoms, which bond together to make molecules. While chemists follow stringent rules in naming compounds, sometimes the name winds up funny or else the original name is so complicated, it's easier to call a molecule by the shape it takes. Here are some of our favorite examples of molecules with funny or downright weird names.

01of 10

Penguinone

Todd Helmenstine

You could call this molecule 3,4,4,5-tetramethylcyclohexa-2,5-dien-1-one, but its common name is penguinone. It is a penguin-shaped ketone. Cute, right?

02of 10

Moronic Acid

Edgar181, Wikipedia Commons

You can find moronic acid in mistletoe and sumac. It would be moronic to eat mistletoe or poison sumac. Moronic acid is a triterpenoid organic acid that occurs in Pistacia resin, which is found in ancient artifacts and shipwrecks.

03of 10

Arsole

cacycle, Wikipedia Commons

Arsole gets its name because it's a ring compound (-ole) based from arsenic. Arsoles are moderately aromatic pyrrole molecules. There is a paper on these compounds: "Studies on the Chemistry of the Arsoles", G. Markland and H. Hauptmann, J. Organomet. Chem.248 (1983) 269. Can the title of a scientific paper get better than that?

04of 10

Broken Windowpane

Todd Helmenstine

The real name of "broken windowpane" is fenestrane, but the structure bears a striking resemblance to a kitchen window after someone has put a broom handle through one of the panes. "Broken windowpane" has been synthesized, although the unbroken form, named "windowpane", only exists on paper.

05of 10

SEX

Todd Helmenstine

This one is an acronym for sodium ethyl xanate. That is not a difficult name, as molecules go, but it's much more fun to call this molecule by its initials.

There's also a molecule that doesn't exist in nature that looks like the word sex written out.

06of 10

DEAD

Todd Helmenstine

DEAD is the acronym for the molecule diethyl azodicarboxylate. In addition to resembling a dead frog opened for dissection in biology class, DEAD can make you dead. It's a shock-sensitive explosive, plus it's toxic and can give you cancer. Fun stuff!

07of 10

Diurea

Todd Helmenstine

This one gets its name because it's essentially two urea molecules bonded together, although its proper chemical name is N,N'-dicarbamoylhydrazine. Diurea is used to improve flow in grease and paint and may be spread around crops as a fertilizer. In other words, your house is painted with diurea and the food you eat grew in it. A related compound, ethylene diurea, is used as an antiozonant, which means it helps counteract harmful effects of ozone on crops.

08of 10

Periodic Acid

Todd Helmenstine

Here's a molecule with a perfect name for chemistry! Although you might be tempted to pronounce the name periodic, like the periodic table, it's really per-iodic, like what you get when you combine peroxide and iodine.

09of 10

Megaphone

Todd Helmenstine

Megaphone is a naturally-occurring compound found in the roots of Aniba megaphylla. It's a ketone, so combining these two facts yields its name.

10of 10

Angelic Acid

Todd Helmenstine

Angelic acid is an organic acid that gets its name from the garden flower angelica (Angelica archangelica). The acid was first isolated from this plant. It's found in herbal preparations as a tonic and sedative. Despite its sweet name, angelic acid has a sour taste and a pungent odor.



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