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Related to compounds: Organic compounds, Chemical compounds


in chemistry, a substance composed of atomsatom
[Gr.,=uncuttable (indivisible)], basic unit of matter; more properly, the smallest unit of a chemical element having the properties of that element. Structure of the Atom
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 of two or more elementselement,
in chemistry, a substance that cannot be decomposed into simpler substances by chemical means. A substance such as a compound can be decomposed into its constituent elements by means of a chemical reaction, but no further simplification can be achieved.
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 in chemical combination, occurring in a fixed, definite proportion and arranged in a fixed, definite structure. A compound is often represented by its chemical formulaformula,
in chemistry, an expression showing the chemical composition of a compound. Formulas of compounds are used in writing the equations (see chemical equations) that represent chemical reactions. Compounds are combinations in fixed proportions of the chemical elements.
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. The formula for water is H2O, and for sodium chloride, NaCl. The formula weightformula weight,
in chemistry, a quantity computed by multiplying the atomic weight (in atomic mass units) of each element in a formula by the number of atoms of that element present in the formula, and then adding all of these products together.
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 of a compound can be determined from its formula. The molecular weightmolecular weight,
weight of a molecule of a substance expressed in atomic mass units (amu). The molecular weight may be calculated from the molecular formula of the substance; it is the sum of the atomic weights of the atoms making up the molecule.
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 of a molecular compound can be determined from its molecular formula. Two or more distinct compounds that have the same molecular formula but different properties are called isomersisomer
, in chemistry, one of two or more compounds having the same molecular formula but different structures (arrangements of atoms in the molecule). Isomerism is the occurrence of such compounds. Isomerism was first recognized by J. J. Berzelius in 1827.
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Formation and Decomposition of Compounds

Compounds are formed from simpler substances by chemical reactionchemical reaction,
process by which one or more substances may be transformed into one or more new substances. Energy is released or is absorbed, but no loss in total molecular weight occurs.
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. Some compounds can be formed directly from their constituent elements, e.g., water from hydrogen and oxygen: 2H2 + O2 → 2H2O. Other compounds are formed by reaction of an element with another compound; e.g., sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is formed (and hydrogen gas released) by the reaction of sodium metal with water: 2Na + 2H2O → 2NaOH + H2↑. Compounds are also made by reaction of other compounds; e.g., sodium hydroxide reacts with hydrogen chloride (HCl) to form sodium chloride and water: HCl + NaOH → NaCl + H2O. Complex molecules such as proteins are formed by a series of reactions involving elements and simple compounds.

Compounds can be decomposed by chemical means into elements or simpler compounds. Water is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis. Candle wax, a mixture of hydrocarbons, is changed in the candle flame by combustion (with oxygen) to a mixture of the simpler compounds carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. Life is based on numerous reactions in which energy is stored and released as compounds are produced and decomposed.

Properties of Compounds

A compound has unique properties that are distinct from the properties of its elemental constituents. One familiar chemical compound is water, a liquid that is nonflammable and does not support combustion. It is composed of two elements: hydrogen, an extremely flammable gas, and oxygen, a gas that supports combustion. A compound differs from a mixture in that the components of a mixture retain their own properties and may be present in many different proportions. The components of a mixture are not chemically combined; they can be separated by physical means. A mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gases is still a gas and can be separated by physical methods. If the mixture is ignited, however, the two gases undergo a rapid chemical combination to form water. Although the hydrogen and oxygen can occur in any proportion in a mixture of gases, they are always combined in the exact proportion of two atoms of hydrogen to one atom of oxygen when combined in the compound water. Another familiar compound is sodium chloride (common salt). It is composed of the silvery metal sodium and the greenish poisonous gas chlorine combined in the proportion of one atom of sodium to one atom of chlorine.

Molecular and Ionic Compounds

Water is a molecular compound; it is made up of electrically neutral moleculesmolecule
[New Lat.,=little mass], smallest particle of a compound that has all the chemical properties of that compound. A single atom is usually not referred to as a molecule, and ionic compounds such as common salt are not made up of molecules.
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, each containing a fixed number of atoms. Sodium chloride is an ionic compound; it is made up of electrically charged ionsion,
atom or group of atoms having a net electric charge. Positive and Negative Electric Charges

A neutral atom or group of atoms becomes an ion by gaining or losing one or more electrons or protons.
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 that are present in fixed proportions and are arranged in a regular, geometric pattern (called crystalline structure) but are not grouped into molecules. The atoms in a compound are held together by chemical bonding (see chemical bondchemical bond,
mechanism whereby atoms combine to form molecules. There is a chemical bond between two atoms or groups of atoms when the forces acting between them are strong enough to lead to the formation of an aggregate with sufficient stability to be regarded as an
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A substance whose molecules consist of unlike atoms and whose constituents cannot be separated by physical means. Also known as chemical compound.
(petroleum engineering)
A power transmission mechanism that transfers power from the engines to the pump, drawworks, and other machinery on a drilling rig.


1. a substance that contains atoms of two or more chemical elements held together by chemical bonds
2. Music
a. denoting a time in which the number of beats per bar is a multiple of three
b. (of an interval) greater than an octave
3. Zoology another word for colonial
4. (of a steam engine, turbine, etc.) having multiple stages in which the steam or working fluid from one stage is used in a subsequent stage
5. (of a piston engine) having a turbocharger powered by a turbine in the exhaust stream


(formerly in India, China, etc.) the enclosure in which a European's house or factory stood
References in classic literature ?
Enough then, that I not only recognised my natural body from the mere aura and effulgence of certain of the powers that made up my spirit, but managed to compound a drug by which these powers should be dethroned from their supremacy, and a second form and countenance substituted, none the less natural to me because they were the expression, and bore the stamp of lower elements in my soul.
The morning found him still upon the field of action, but in sad and sorrowful condition; suffering the penalties of past pleasures, and calling to mind the captain's dulcet compound, with many a retch and spasm.
Tell me," pleaded Ojo, speaking to the Crooked Magician, "what must we find to make the compound that will save Unc Nunkie?
Though I knew she could not be in camp, I searched every square inch of the compound and all the buildings, yet without avail.
Between him and the beach was the cane-grass fence of the compound.
The inclosed compound has just reached him from Amsterdam.
A soldierly compound of vanity, duty and the gambler's
I'd never be able to do those compound multiplication sums the teacher gives us to do at home every night if I didn't get Judy Pineau to help me.
Karnegie being--as we all are in our various degrees--a compound of many opposite qualities, possessed a character with more than one side to it, and had her human merits as well as her human faults.
For, even the preachers have begun to tell us that God is radium, or ether or some scientific compound, and that the worst we wicked ones may expect is a chemical reaction.
The raven in this story is a compound of two great originals, of whom I was, at different times, the proud possessor.
Knowing that your clear head would propose that alternative, I have gone over the calculations in my mind; and I find that to compound a felony, even on very high terms indeed, would not be as safe and good for me as my improved prospects in the Bank.