Trivial Nomenclature System

Trivial Nomenclature System: Naming Organic Compounds

Have you ever wondered how organic compounds get their names? If you thought that scientists pick a name at random, you could not be farther from the truth. In fact, an evolved system is followed when it comes to the nomenclature of organic compounds.

Trivial nomenclature system is one of the two primary methods of naming chemical compounds. By the end of this lesson, you will learn all about trivial nomenclature and its advantages and drawbacks. Additionally, students will also start to appreciate why IUPAC system is one of the most widely accepted naming systems for chemical compounds.

Notably, this is one of the most vital chapters in your syllabus. While on one hand this chapter allows easy scoring of marks, it also helps in handling future chapters on organic chemistry which are vital not just for your board exams but also for competitive ones.

What is Trivial Nomenclature?

Trivial system of nomenclature does not rely on any fixed rules while naming chemical compounds. Instead, the names primarily rely on the source of the organic compounds or their properties. For instance, methane was named marsh gas under the trivial nomenclature convention, primarily because the gas was mainly found in marshy areas. 

Examples of Trivial Nomenclature of Organic Compounds

Apart from methane, other examples of trivial nomenclature include formic acid. Formic acid was previously distilled mainly from red ants. In the Greek language, these red ants were called formicus, which is how the acidic compound derived its name.

Another example is methyl alcohol. It was named wood spirit under the trivial nomenclature convention because the main method of obtaining this compound was to distil the same from wood. 

Disadvantages of Trivial Nomenclature

At first glance, a trivial name may sound like the best option. However, this system has its drawbacks as well. One must consider the following disadvantages when trying to use this convention to name a chemical compound.

  • Each compound may have several trivial names attached to it, which can create some confusion. For example, carboxylic acid and hydroxybenzene are both alternate names for phenol. 

  • As stated previously, no guidelines are there to determine the name of complex compounds under the trivial nomenclature of organic compounds. Due to this lack of rules, you will never find any underlying logical pattern to the naming of chemical compounds. 

  • Only the first few compounds in each group possess trivial names. For instance, in the carboxylic acid group, only formic acid and acetic acid have trivial nomenclature. Compounds with a greater number of atoms in this carboxylic acid group, however, do not possess any such trivial name.

As is evident from these pointers, trivial names have their drawbacks. This is primarily why today experts rely on IUPAC naming convention only for accurate nomenclature, even though the names may turn out to be long and complicated. Despite being long, it offers a uniform naming method which can be easily understood by chemists. Furthermore, chemists can also understand various properties of a compound by analysing these names.

Rules of IUPAC Convention in Nomenclature Chemistry

Since trivial naming is not too reliable, IUPAC naming convention is often followed. Such nomenclature comes with a set of rules. You must learn about these rules, if you want to assess how chemical compound naming takes place.

At any rate, keep in mind that an IUPAC name is made out of five crucial parts. These five parts include – 

  • Locant – Locants are parts of naming in organic chemistry. In simple terms, it is a number denoting the position of functional groups within organic molecules

  • Prefix – Under IUPAC nomenclature, prefixes can be either primary or secondary. Prefixes can be indicative of substituent groups or side chains. They can also help one determine whether a compound comes with acyclic or cyclic natures. 

  • Root – The primary role of the root part in IUPAC nomenclature is to indicate how many carbon atoms are present in the longest carbon chain of an organic compound. 

  • Locant – Same functionality as compared to previous locant.

  • Suffix – Suffix refers to the word written just after the root in such a nomenclature. Roots are just the functional groups accompanying the molecule. Primary suffix is written after the root as ‘ane’ in the event of alkanes. Secondary suffix comes just after the primary suffix. For instance, if an organic compound contains both alkanes and alcohols, the secondary suffix is ‘ol’.

Reasons Why IUPAC is the Preferred Nomenclature System for Organic Compounds

When you compare the other naming conventions to IUPAC, you can clearly see why the latter is often preferred. Nevertheless, here are some advantages of IUPAC nomenclature that trivial nomenclature of organic compounds lack. 

  • The IUPAC system does not only tell you the scientific name of a compound but also gives you an idea regarding its chemical structure. If you know how to read such a name correctly, you can also draw out the exact structure of the compound in question. No other naming convention allows experts to derive such detailed information from a compound’s name alone.

  • IUPAC follows a systematic and scientific approach when it comes to compound naming. Furthermore, when you understand how each part of the naming works, understanding the names of a compound becomes very simple.

  • One can also derive the structural formula of an organic compound from its IUPAC name. You cannot hope to do the same from trivial names of organic compounds. 

  • You can easily write the name for even the most complex organic compounds, following the guidelines for IUPAC nomenclature. This extent of freedom and scope is largely missing from most other naming conventions.

Various Kinds of IUPAC Nomenclature

One can divide IUPAC nomenclature into three distinct parts – 

  1. Compositional Nomenclature – As the name suggests, these are names of chemical compounds relying solely on its components. The names of such compounds are almost similar to those of salts. Nevertheless, the names do not predict the chemical nature of the compound in question.

  1. Substitutive Nomenclature – Any compound that changes its parent hydride by replacing its hydrogen atoms by any substituent group can be termed as substitutive nomenclature.

  1. Additive Nomenclature – These conventions help during the naming of coordination compounds.

Study these nomenclature types in great detail to get a grasp on organic chemistry. The ability to differentiate between the compound names can help you immensely, when you proceed further into this branch of chemistry.      

Whether you are learning about the nomenclature of organic compounds or other complex topics, we can help enhance your exam preparations. Our expert faculty members cannot only ready you for your impending board examinations, but also prepare you to handle the various competitive examinations.

If you still have queries about IUPAC nomenclature or other topics, you can approach our teachers during any online session for doubt clearance. Moreover, we provide additional assistance in the form of study notes and materials that should ease comprehension of various topics. Now you can also download our Vedantu app for enhanced accessibility.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Longest Chain Rule in IUPAC nomenclature?

Ans. When following the IUPAC nomenclature convention, one should by identifying and naming the parent hydrocarbon group. The longest chain of carbon atoms is designated as the parent chain. This carbon chain may occur along a straight line or follow other norms of shape or structure. Regardless of the shape, however, the parent chain of a molecule will always be the one which includes the most number of carbon atoms.

2. What other name can a compound have other than IUPAC and trivial?

Ans. Officially, each chemical compound follows two distinct nomenclature procedures. These are the trivial system and IUPAC system. However, unofficially, a compound may have other names as well, by which they are commonly referred. 

These are designated as common names. To clarify, you need to know about an example, where a compound’s chemical name differs from its common name. You can consider acetone, which is the common name for 2-propanone. There are several other compounds as well, which have different common name and IUPAC/trivial names.

3. Why do chemical compounds under trivial system have shorter names?

Ans. Trivial system of naming does not follow a distinct set of rules. Instead of difficult and long names for a compound, the trivial system prioritises simplicity and convenience over accuracy. IUPAC system, on the other hand, relies on a strict set of rules that one must stick to when naming compounds under this convention. This is the reason why trivial system leads to shorter names when it comes to nomenclature of organic compounds.

4. Why is nomenclature important?

Ans. Whether you prefer IUPAC and or trivial system of nomenclature of organic compound, one cannot deny that having such names are essential. Nomenclature is the scientific process for naming various creatures, compounds and much more. It is important to have a name for the various compounds, failing which it would very difficult to identify the various compounds.