Science, Tech, Math › Science Acid Definition and Examples Chemistry Glossary Definition of Acid Share Flipboard Email Print Three-dimensional model of sulfuric acid, a common strong acid. LAGUNA DESIGN / Getty Images Science Chemistry Chemical Laws Basics Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Updated May 04, 2019 Acid Definition in Chemistry An acid is a chemical species that donates protons or hydrogen ions and/or accepts electrons. Most acids contain a hydrogen atom bonded that can release (dissociate) to yield a cation and anion in water. The higher the concentration of hydrogen ions produced by an acid, the higher its acidity and the lower the pH of the solution. The word acid comes from the Latin words acidus or acere, which mean "sour," since one of the characteristics of acids in water is a sour taste (e.g., vinegar or lemon juice). Summary of Acid and Base Properties This table offers an overview of key properties of acids compared with bases: Property Acid Base pH less than 7 greater than 7 litmus paper blue to red doesn't change litmus, but can return acid (red) paper back to blue taste sour (e.g., vinegar) bitter or soapy (e.g., baking soda) odor burning sensation often no odor (exception is ammonia) texture sticky slippery reactivity reacts with metals to produce hydrogen gas reacts with several fats and oils Arrhenius, Brønsted-Lowry, and Lewis Acids There are different ways of defining acids. When a person refers to "an acid," this usually refers to an Arrhenius or Brønsted-Lowry acid. A Lewis acid is typically called a "Lewis acid." The reason for the differing definitions is because these different acids don't include the same set of molecules. Arrhenius Acid: By this definition, an acid is a substance which increases the concentration of hydronium ions (H3O+) when added to water. You may also consider increasing the concentration of hydrogen ion (H+), as an alternative. Brønsted-Lowry Acid: By this definition, an acid is a material capable of acting as a proton donor. This is a less restrictive definition because solvents besides water are not excluded. Essentially, any compound that can be deprotonated is a Brønsted-Lowry acid, including typical acids, plus amines, and alcohol. This is the most widely used definition of an acid. Lewis Acid: A Lewis acid is a compound which can accept an electron pair to form a covalent bond. By this definition, some compounds which don't contain hydrogen qualify as acids, including aluminum trichloride and boron trifluoride. Acid Examples These are examples of types of acids and specific acids: Arrhenius acidMonoprotic acidLewis acidHydrochloric acidSulfuric acidHydrofluoric acidAcetic acidStomach acid (which contains hydrochloric acid)Vinegar (which contains acetic acid)Citric acid (found in citrus fruits) Strong and Weak Acids Acids may be identified as either strong or weak acids based on how completely they dissociate into their ions in water. A strong acid, such as hydrochloric acid, completely dissociates into its ions in water. A weak acid only partly dissociates into its ions, so the solution contains water, ions, and the acid (e.g., acetic acid). Learn More Names of 10 AcidsDo You Add Acid to Water or Water to Acid?Intro to Acids, Bases, and pH Continue Reading Understand the Bronsted Lowry Theory of Acids and Bases What Is a Hydronium Ion? Key Acids and Bases Definitions What Determines the Strength of an Acid or Base? What Is a Weak Acid? Did You Know These Facts About Acids and Bases? What Is an Arrhenius Acid? Review Your Chemistry Concepts Common Strong and Weak Acids and Ways to Tell Them Apart Practice Calculating the pH of a Weak Acid With This Sample Problem What Is a Conjugate Base? What Is a Base in Chemistry? Practice Calculating the pH of a Strong Acid with This Sample Problem What Do You Need to Know to Calculate pH? What Is an Acid-Base Indicator? Review Your Chemistry Concepts Know What a Strong Acid Is in Chemistry Do You Know the Names of 10 Common Acids?