Chemistry Glossary Terms Starting with the Letter C

Chemistry Glossary and Dictionary

Crystals have an ordered atomic or molecular structure.
Crystals have an ordered atomic or molecular structure. William Roesly, morguefile.com

This chemistry glossary offers definitions for terms which are commonly used in chemistry and chemical engineering. These chemistry words begin with the letter C.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

cadmium - Cadmium is the name for the element with atomic number 48 and is represented by the symbol Cd. It is a member of the transition metals group.

caffeine - Caffeine is a chemical substance naturally found in tea and coffee and added to colas.

calcium - Calcium is the name for the element with atomic number 20 and is represented by the symbol Ca. It is a member of the alkaline earth metal group.

calibration - Calibration is the process of determining the relation between the output or response of a measuring instrument and the value of the input. Calibration typically involves the use of a measuring standard.

californium - Californium is the name for the element with atomic number 98 and is represented by the symbol Cf. It is a member of the actinide group.

calomel - Calomel is a common name for mercury chloride, Hg2Cl2.

calorie

calorimeter

calorimeter constant (C) - Denoted by 'C', the calorimeter constant is the product of the mass multiplied by the specific heat of a bomb calorimeter.

calorimetry - Calorimetry is the study of measuring heat changes from chemical reactions or physical changes.

calx - Calx is an oxide of a metal. In early chemical history, when a substance was burned and phlogiston was removed.

The residue left behind was called calx of what was burned.

calx of lead - Calx of lead is a deprecated chemical term for lead oxide compounds.

calx of mercury - Calx of mercury is a deprecated chemistry term for the compound mercury oxide, HgO.
Also Known As: red calx of mercury

candela - Candela is the SI unit for measuring luminous intensity.

A candela (cd) is defined as the luminous intensity in a given direction of a monochromatic source of 540 nm light that has a radiant intensity of 1/683 watts per steradian.
Example: A common candle has the luminous intensity close to one candela.

capillary action

capsid - A capsid is a shell or coating made up of proteins around a virus' genetic material.

capsomere - A capsomere is the basic subunit protein in the capsid of a virus.

carat - A carat is a unit of mass for gemstones and pearls. One carat is defined to be equal to 200 milligrams.
Common Misuse: karat is a measure of purity.

carbanion - A carbanion is a carbon atom which has a negative electrical charge. A carbon anion.

carbenium - Carbenium is a carbocation with three valence electrons.

carbocation - A carbocation is any carbon cation. The carbocation with three valence electrons is called carbenium. Carbocations with five or six valence electrons are called carbonium ions.

carbodiimide group - The carbodiimide group is a functional group with formula RN=C=NR. Carbodiimide compounds are used to couple peptide molecules.

carbohydrate - Carbohydrates are a class of organic compounds having the general formula Cm(H2O)n.
Examples: Glucose, fructose, sucrose, starch, cellulose.

carbon - Carbon is the name for the element with atomic number 6 and is represented by the symbol C. It is a member of the nonmetal group.

carbonate

carbonate ion - The chemical species CO32-.

carbon black - Carbon black is a nearly pure elemental carbon formed from controlled combustion of petroleum hydrocarbons. It has no set crystal structure and is usually found as a fine powder or in pellet form. Carbon black is used mainly as a coloring and reinforcing agent in rubber production and as toner for photocopiers and laser printers.

carbon-carbon bond - A carbon-carbon bond is a covalent bond between two carbon atoms in a molecule.

carbon-carbon double bond - A carbon-carbon double bond is a double bond between two carbon atoms in a molecule.
Example: Ethylene (C2H4) is a hydrocarbon with a carbon-carbon double bond.

carbon-carbon triple bond - A carbon-carbon triple bond is a triple bond between two carbon atoms in a molecule.
Example: Acetylene is a hydrocarbon with a carbon-carbon triple bond between the two carbon atoms.

carbonium ion - Carbonium ions are carbocations with either five or six valence electrons.

carbonyl

carboxylation

carboxylyase - A carboxylyase is a lyase which catalyzes a reaction to add or remove a carboxyl group from a compound.
Also Known As: decarboxylase

carboxyl group

carboxylic acid - Carboxylic acid is an organic compound containing the COOH functional group.
Example: An example is acetic acid, CH3COOH

carboy - A carboy is a large container, usually made of glass, capable of holding 5 to 15 gallons of liquid.
Also Known As: demijohn

carcinogen - A carcinogen is a material that causes or is suspected to cause cancer.

carmelization

carotenoid - Carotenoids are a family of natural pigments found in plants and animals. Plants are the source of the carotenoids found in animals.
Examples: beta-carotene, lycopene

catabolism -Catabolism is the decomposition of complex molecules into simpler molecules by chemical reactions.

catalysis - Catalysis is the acceleration (or deceleration) of a chemical reaction due to the presence of a catalyst.

catalyst

catalytic cracking - Catalytic cracking is the process of cracking in the presence of a catalyst.

catenation

cathode

cathode ray - A cathode ray is an electron emitted from a cathode in a vacuum tube.

cathode ray tube

cation

causality principle - The causality principle is the fundamental principle of science where every event has a cause and the cause precedes the event.

cavitation - Cavitation is boiling of a liquid that is caused by a decrease in pressure rather than by an increase in temperature.

cell potential - Cell potential is the potential difference between the cathode and anode of an electrochemical cell.

Celsius temperature scale

ceiling limit - Ceiling limit refers to the concentration of a chemical or material that no person should be exposed to for any period of time to prevent ill effects or death.


Example: The ceiling limit for ammonia (NH3) is 50 parts per million for 5 minutes.

centi - Centi is the prefix associated with x10-2 and is denoted by the symbol c.
Example: The width of a fingernail is approximately 1 centimeter or 1/100 m.

ceramic - A ceramic is a material constructed from inorganic, nonmetallic materials and then heated to change their physical properties and allowed to cool. Ceramics are often more heat and corrosion resistant than metallic or polymer materials.
Examples: Glass and pottery are both common ceramic materials.

cerium

cesium - Cesium is the name for the element with atomic number 55 and is represented by the symbol Cs. It is a member of the alkali metal group.

cetane number (CN)

CFC - A CFC is an abbreviation for chlorofluorocarbon. CFCs are compounds that contain atoms of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon.
Also Known As: chlorofluorocarbon
Example: Dichlorodifluoromethane or Freon-12 is a CFC.

CGS units

chain molecule

chain reaction

chalcogen

chaotropic

charge

Charles's law

chelate

chelating agent

chemical

chemical change

chemical energy

chemical engineering

chemical equation

chemical equilibrium

chemical formula

chemical kinetics

chemical physics

chemical property

chemical reaction

chemical symbol

chemiluminescence

chemistry

Cherenkov radiation - Cherenkov radiation is the electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle moves through a dielectric medium faster than the velocity of light in the medium.
Also Known As: Cerenkov radiation
Examples: The distinctive blue glow around nuclear reactors is caused by Cherenkov radiation.

chiral center

chirality - Chirality or chiral describes a nonsuperimposable mirror image, like left and right hands. Usually in chemistry the term is used to describe a pair of molecules that have the same formulas, but form a pair of structures.

chlorate

chloride

chlorinated hydrocarbon

chlorination - Chlorination is a process where a substance is combined with chlorine. Chlorination also refers to the treatment of water to kill microorganisms and oxidize several organic contaminants.

chlorination reaction

chlorine

chlorite

chlorocarbon

chlorofluorocarbon - A Chlorofluorocarbon is a compound that contains atoms of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon.
Also Known As: CFC
Example: Dichlorodifluoromethane or Freon-12 is a chlorofluorocarbon.

cholesteric

chromate

chromate compound

chromatography

chromite

chromium - Chromium is the name for the element with atomic number 24 and is represented by the symbol Cr. It is a member of the transition metals group.

chromophore

circuit

closed system

coagulation

cobalt

coenzyme

cohesion

collagen

colligative properties

colloid

columbium

combined gas law

combination reaction

combustion

combustion reaction

common-ion effect

compound

common name

Complementarity Principle

complete combustion

complex ion

composite material

comproportionation

concentrated

concentration

condensation

condensation reaction

condensation polymer

condensed formula

conductor

conformation - Conformation refers to the different shapes a molecule can attain when groups of atoms are rotated around a single bond.

conformer

congener

conjugate

conjugate acid

conjugate base

conjugated system

conservation of energy

conservation of mass

constant variable

continuous spectrum

contributing structure

controlled variable

convection

conversion factor

coordination bond

coordination complex

coordination compound

coordination number

copernicium

copolymer

copper - Copper is the name for the element with atomic number 29 and is represented by the symbol Cu. It is a member of the transition metals group.

corrosion

corrosive

coulomb

Coulomb's law

covalent bond

covalent compound

covalent radius

cracking

crenation

critical mass

critical molar volume

critical point

critical pressure

critical temperature

cross-link

crown ether

crude oil

cyrogenics

cryogenic gas

crystal

crystal field splitting

crystallize

crystallization water

crystals of silver - Crystals of silver is the deprecated chemistry term for the compound silver nitrate, AgNO3.
Also Known As: Lunar crystals is another deprecated term for silver nitrate.

cubic centimeter

cupric

cuprous

cuprum

curie

Curie point

curium

current

cyanate

cyanide

cycloalkane

cycloalkene

cys

cysteine

cystine

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z