Any chemistry student will learn IUPAC nomenclature in her first month of college. Most chemies will start using nomenclature during everyday conversations, referring for example to salt as sodium chloride. This is mostly to show off.

The true synthetic chemists, who spent years doing benchwork, have their own language. The author, currently an intern in a federal lab, met a few and they are much harder to understand. So here it is: how to speak like somebody who does twenty step syntheses in his sleep.

Firstly, most industrial chemicals have names that have been in use for a hundred year. Here are some common ones:

Inorganic industrial chemicals are not the only ones with weird names. From organic chemistry: As far as the periodic table is concerned, everybody knows what alkali metals, alkali earth metals and noble gases are. Not nearly as common, though, is the name pnictogens (or for the true old-schools pentels) for the nitrogen group and the name chalcogens for the oxygen group.

So go on! Impress your fellow schoolmates!
I'll add more as I discover them.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.