Capirlo: IUPAC Organic Chemistry Nomenclature

The IUPAC nomenclature of organic chemistry is a systematic method of naming organic chemical compounds. It has two simple rules. Just kidding, it has a bunch of rules that require strict memorization or you risk getting a name wrong. On the positive side, outside of class the rules of more complex compounds aren't super important and people just look at a structure. The rules are most recently described in Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry: IUPAC Recommendations and Preferred Names 2013 a 1500+ page book that conveniently owns the copyright to them... However, with a little help from Wikipedia we can summarize.

The steps for naming an organic compound are:

  1. Identification of the parent hydrocarbon chain. This chain must obey the following rules, in order of precedence:
    1. It should have the maximum number of substituents of the suffix functional group. By suffix, it is meant that the parent functional group should have a suffix, unlike halogen substituents. If more than one functional group is present, the one with highest precedence should be used.
    2. It should have the maximum number of multiple bonds.
    3. It should have the maximum number of single bonds.
    4. It should have the maximum length.
  2. Identification of the parent functional group, if any, with the highest order of precedence.
  3. Identification of the side-chains. Side chains are the carbon chains that are not in the parent chain, but are branched off from it.
  4. Identification of the remaining functional groups, if any, and naming them by their ionic prefixes (such as hydroxy for -OH, oxy for =O, oxyalkane for O-R, etc.). Different side-chains and functional groups will be grouped together in alphabetical order. (The prefixes di-, tri-, etc. are not taken into consideration for grouping alphabetically. For example, ethyl comes before dihydroxy or dimethyl, as the "e" in "ethyl" precedes the "h" in "dihydroxy" and the "m" in "dimethyl" alphabetically. The "di" is not considered in either case). When both side chains and secondary functional groups are present, they should be written mixed together in one group rather than in two separate groups.
  5. Identification of double/triple bonds.
  6. Numbering of the chain.
    1. This is done by first numbering the chain in both directions (left to right and right to left), and then choosing the numbering which follows these rules, in order of precedence
    2. Has the lowest-numbered locant (or locants) for the suffix functional group. Locants are the numbers on the carbons to which the substituent is directly attached.
    3. Has the lowest-numbered locants for multiple bonds (The locant of a multiple bond is the number of the adjacent carbon with a lower number).
  7. Has the lowest-numbered locants for prefixes.

Numbering of the various substituents and bonds with their locants. If there is more than one of the same type of substituent/double bond, a prefix is added showing how many there are ( di – 2 tri – 3 tetra – 4 then as for the number of carbons below with 'a' added) The numbers for that type of side chain will be grouped in ascending order and written before the name of the side-chain. If there are two side-chains with the same alpha carbon, the number will be written twice. Example: 2,2,3-trimethyl- . If there are both double bonds and triple bonds, "en" (double bond) is written before "yne" (triple bond). When the main functional group is a terminal functional group (a group which can exist only at the end of a chain, like formyl and carboxyl groups), there is no need to number it.

  1. Arrangement in this form: Group of side chains and secondary functional groups with numbers made in step 3 + prefix of parent hydrocarbon chain (eth, meth) + double/triple bonds with numbers (or "ane") + primary functional group suffix with numbers. Wherever it says "with numbers", it is understood that between the word and the numbers, the prefix(di-, tri-) is used.
  2. Adding of punctuation:
    1. Commas are put between numbers (2 5 5 becomes 2,5,5)
    2. Hyphens are put between a number and a letter (2 5 5 trimethylheptane becomes 2,5,5-trimethylheptane)
    3. Successive words are merged into one word (trimethyl heptane becomes trimethylheptane) Note: IUPAC uses one-word names throughout. This is why all parts are connected.

The finalized name should look like this: #,#-di-#--#--#,#,#-tri-#,#-di-#--#- Note: # is used for a number. The group secondary functional groups and side chains may not look the same as shown here, as the side chains and secondary functional groups are arranged alphabetically. The di- and tri- have been used just to show their usage. (di- after #,#, tri- after #,#,#, etc.)