Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsChemistry · 1 month ago

Why do chemists disfavor the use of the term di-hydrogen monoxide?

I've read that the term is disfavored for some apparent reason, despite being technically correct. Why might this be, other than the obvious relation to the infamous hoax?


Noting that water has a neutral pH so names like "hydroxic acid" don't accurately fit. Oxidane means "hydride of oxygen" of which there can be several, and "hydrogen oxide" is incorrect because it implies an incorrect molecular structure (e.g. mono-hydrogen).

11 Answers

  • 1 month ago

    Water is actually an acid, and actually a stronger acid than some things you would recognize as acids, so hydrohydroxic acid is absolutely a correct name.

    In any case those names generally aren't used because there's just no point. We all know water is water, and with the possible exception of heavy water, there's no other molecule which we would ever think of if we were told "water."

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    Hi. You are trying to crack a lame old joke right? Please cut out that stuff and post something serious.

    I have been studying chem for 30 years.

    We are not so free to entertain your antics.

  • 1 month ago

    Because the IUPAC name for H2O is "water", it's not "dihydrogen monoxide."  That is essentially a joke.

    IUPAC name: water, oxidane

    Other namesHydrogen hydroxide (HH or HOH), hydrogen oxide, dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) (systematic name[1]), dihydrogen oxide, hydric acid, hydrohydroxic acid, hydroxic acid, hydrol,[2] μ-oxido dihydrogen, κ1-hydroxyl hydrogen(0)

    From Wikipedia:

  • 1 month ago

    I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry (Univ. of New Orleans, 1975). We use the common names of many chemicals because the formal name is often too long to write out every time you want to reference it.  We are practical like that. 

    We use abbreviations such as EDTA for ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid, a chelating agent (if you've ever hear of chelation therapy). 

    We use DMSO (di methyl sulfoxide) for the solvent that makes Aspercreme work as a topical analgesic.

    We say "benzene" rather than some name like cyclo-tri-ethene.

    It is true that the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has a formal name for every chemical, but we have to limit ourselves to commonly used names because people don't want to spend years of study to learn the common names of various chemicals.  And trust me, some of those "jaw breaker" names are just too much for most people.

    Take, for example, N-methyl indole.  That is a compound with TWO closed structures, one of which is like benzene.  The other is decidedly NOT like benzene.  The IUPAC name would be horrendous - but indole is easy to say and unequivocal.

    Let me ask this:  Would you rather have mono-acetic ester of acetosalicylic acid, or can I just interest you in an aspirin?

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  • Paul
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    The term "oxide" is appropriate for a compound that is a monoxide, dioxide, trioxide, etc. They are all oxides.

  • Dr W
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    we have two naming systems

    .. (1) common

    .. (2) IUPAC

    Common uses historical names.  IUPAC uses a systematic process.  Common has been around since the beginning of time.  IUPAC is relatively new.  IUPAC has adopted the common names of chemicals that are ingrained in society.  Water is one such chemical

    Can you think of any others?

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    R u taking Intro to Chem 101 or somethin

  • david
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Chemistry is complicated enough.  When there is a perfectly good common name that is universally accepted ...  4th / 5th grade kids know that water is H2O ,,, then why use a really cumbersome name for a substance?  

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    It's one of the clumsier names for it. Thanks to the magic of scientific naming practices there are several other perfectly cromulent names for water: hydrogen oxide, hydrogen hydroxide, hydric acid, hydroxic acid, hydroxyl acid, hydrohydroxic acid, hydroxilic acid, and my new favorite... oxidane. 

  • 1 month ago

    Wouldn’t it be easier to say water since everyone knows what it is. It’s quicker to write water than dihydrogen monoxide. 

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