What is Symbol in Chemistry?

A symbol basically is a representation of some properties. These representations can be present in any form like mark form, sign form, or word form. It indicates, signifies, or is understood as a representing unit that gives an idea about an object and relationship between the entities. Symbols enable people to go beyond what they already know or see by establishing connections between otherwise disparate ideas and experiences. Let us discuss what is symbol in chemistry. Symbols used in chemistry are the acronyms that are utilized in chemistry for representing chemical elements, different functional groups and chemical compounds (organic and inorganic compounds). The use of chemical symbols is in every branch of chemistry. 


Define Symbol in Chemistry

Let us discuss the symbol in chemistry, there are so many symbols that are used in chemistry. 

1. Chemical Symbols

2. Reaction Symbols

3. Temperature Symbols

4. Precipitation Symbol

5. Gas Symbol

6. Free radical Symbol

7. Cation Symbol

8. Anion Symbol

9. Wavelength Symbol

10. Light Symbol

Let us define symbol in chemistry one by one.


Chemical Symbol

As we have already discussed, what is a chemical symbol? So, we all know that it is a symbol that represents the elements present in the periodic table. Chemical element symbols are usually composed of one or two letters from the Latin alphabet, with the first letter capitalised. Latin symbols are also used, especially in formulas.


Reaction Symbol

This type of symbol represents the nature of the reaction. The nature of the reaction can be a forward reaction, backward reaction, reversible reaction, exothermic reaction, endothermic reaction.


Reaction Symbols

What Does a Chemical Symbol Represent?

Indicates forward reaction.

Indicate backward reaction.

Indicate Reversible reaction.

-

Minus signs at the end of the reaction represent exothermic reactions.

+

A positive sign at the end of the reaction represents an endothermic reaction.


Temperature Symbol

This symbol is represented by the delta. Temperature symbol is used in chemical reactions that undergo dissociation, melting, transition in the state. It is represented as Δ. Other than these symbols for representing units of temperature like Fahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin can also be represented by using symbols.


Unit of Temperature

Temperature Symbol

What Does it Represent?

Celsius 

⁰C

The temperature in degrees celsius

Kelvin 

K

Temperature in kelvin

Fahrenheit 

⁰F

Temperature in Fahrenheit 

The heat involved in Reaction

Δ

The heat involved in the reaction

 

Precipitation Symbol

This symbol is used to represent the precipitate formed in the reaction. This symbol is represented by the downward arrow (↓).


Gas Symbol

The gas symbol is used to represent the nature of a reactant or product formed in the reaction. If any of the reacting entities are present in the gaseous phase, it will be represented by using an upward arrow (↑).


Free Radical Symbol

The free radical symbol is used to represent the free radical involved in the reaction. It is represented by a small dot over the chemical symbol. For example, Cl. represents the free radical of chlorine atoms.


Cation Symbol

The cation symbol can be written using a positive sign over the chemical symbol. It is formed by losing an electron.


Anion Symbol

The anion symbol can be written using a negative sign over the elemental symbol. It is formed by gaining an electron.


What is a Chemical Symbol?

The system of symboling in earlier times originated from the Latin and Greek vocabulary. For some elements, the symbols are present in the Latin vocabulary as they were known in ancient times. For example, Pb is the symbol for lead (plumbum in Latin), Hg is the symbol for mercury (hydrargyrum in Greek). While for other elements, the name is given in German vocabulary, as they are not known in roman time. For example, W for tungsten (Wolfram in German).


Chemical Symbols Name

Chemical Symbols of various elements are given below: 


Chemical Symbol

Chemical Name

H

Hydrogen

He

Helium

Li

lithium

Be

Beryllium

B

Boron

C

Carbon

N

Nitrogen

O

Oxygen

F

Fluorine

Ne

Neon

Na

Sodium

Mg

Magnesium

Al

Aluminium

Si

Silicon

P

Phosphorus

S

Sulphur

Cl

Chlorine

Ar

Argon

K

Potassium

Ca

Calcium

Sc

Scandium

Ti

Titanium

V

Vanadium

Cr

Chromium

Mn

Manganese

Fe

Iron

Co

Cobalt

Ni

Nickel

Cu

Copper

Zn

Zinc

Ga

Gallium

Ge

Germanium

As

Arsenic

Se

Selenium

Br

Bromine

Kr

Krypton

Rb

Rubidium

Sr

Strontium

Y

Yttrium

Zr

Zirconium

Nb

Niobium

Mo

Molybdenum

Tc

Technetium

Ru

Ruthenium

Rh

Rhodium

Pd

Palladium

Ag

Silver

Cd

Cadmium

In

Indium

Sn

Tin

Sb

Antimony

Te

Tellurium

I

Iodine

Xe

Xenon

Cs

Caesium

Ba

Barium

La

Lanthanum

Ce

Cerium

Pr

Praseodymium

Nd

Neodymium

Pm

Promethium

Sm

Samarium

Eu

Europium

Gd

Gadolinium

Tb

Terbium

Dy

Dysprosium

Ho

Holmium

Er

Erbium

Tm

Thulium

Yb

Ytterbium

Lu

Lutetium

Hf

Hafnium

Ta

Tantalum

W

Tungsten

Re

Rhenium

Os

Osmium

Ir

Iridium

Pt

Platinum

Au

Gold

Hg

Mercury

Tl

Thallium

Pb

Lead

Bi

Bismuth

Po

Polonium

At

Astatine

Rn

Radon

Fr

Francium

Ra

Radium

Ac

Actinium

Th

Thorium

Pa

Protactinium

U

Uranium

Np

Neptunium

Pu

Plutonium

Am

Americium

Cm

Curium

Bk

Berkelium

Cf

Californium

Es

Einsteinium

Fm

Fermium

Md

Mendelevium

No

Nobelium

Lr

Lawrencium

Rf

Rutherfordium

Db

Dubnium

Sg

Seaborgium

Bh

Bohrium

Hs

Hassium

Mt

Meitnerium

Ds

Darmstadtium

Rg

Roentgenium

Cn

Copernicium

Nh

Nihonium

Fl

Flerovium

Mc

Moscovium

Lv

Livermorium

Ts

Tennessine

Og

Oganesson


The above-mentioned symbols represent the chemistry symbols name.


Berzelius Symbols of Elements

Berzelius was a pioneer in the field of chemical nomenclature, introducing the one and two-letter symbols for chemical elements based on their Latin names (some of which he had to devise himself). “The chemical signs ought to be letters, for the greater convenience of printing, and not to disfigure a printed book,” he argued in a seminal article published in the British journal Annals of Philosophy in January 1814. He went on to detail the main principles for creating such symbols, the majority of which are still in use today, more than 200 years later. Berzelius's symbols are the symbols that we use nowadays, with some modifications. These symbols are the only ones that we use today. Below is a table is given that shows the names of elements and symbols. These symbols are reproduced from Berzelius's system of symboling. 


Element

Berzelius Symbol 

Present Symbol

Chromium

Ch

Cr

Columbium

Cl

Nb

Glucinum

Gl

Be

Mercury

Hg

Hg

Magnesium

Ms

Mg

Manganese

Ma

Mn

Chlorine

M

Cl

Palladium

Pa

Pd

Lead

Pb

Pb

Potassium

Po

K

Rhodium

Rh

Rh

Sodium

So

Na

Antimony

Sb

Sb

Tin

Sn

Sn

Tungsten

Tn

W


Did You Know?

  • The chemical symbols are the short form of the elements present in the periodic table.

  • Chemical symbols are not named according to the initial letters.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Define Chemical Symbols.

Answer: Chemical symbols are the symbols that represent the element present in the periodic table. These symbols are used in writing chemical reactions.

2. What is the Chemical Symbol for Sodium?

Answer: The Chemical symbol for sodium atoms is Na.