Methyl Group Definition in Chemistry

Chemistry Glossary Definition

Models of methanol molecules
Methyl alcohol or methanol consists of a methyl group bonded to an OH group. (H is white, C is black and O is red).

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A methyl group is a functional group derived from methane containing one carbon atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms, -CH3. In chemical formulas, it may be abbreviated as Me. While the methyl group is commonly found in larger organic molecules, methyl may exist on its own as an anion( CH3), cation (CH3+), or radical (CH3). However, methyl on its own is extremely reactive. The methyl group in a compound is typically the most stable functional group in the molecule.

The term "methyl" was introduced around 1840 by French chemists Eugene Peligot and Jean-Baptiste Dumas from back formation of methylene. Methylene, in turn, was named from the Greek words methy, meaning "wine," and hyle, for "wood or patch of trees." Methyl alcohol roughly translates as "alcohol made from a woody substance."

Also Known As: (-CH3), methyl group

Examples of Methyl Groups

Examples of compounds containing the methyl group are methyl chloride, CH3Cl, and methyl alchohol or methanol, CH3OH.


  • Heinz G. Floss, Sungsook Lee (1993). "Chiral Methyl Groups: Small Is Beautiful." Acc. Chem. Res. vol. 26, pp 116–122. doi:10.1021/ar00027a007
  • March, Jerry (1992). Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reactions, Mechanisms, and Structure. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-60180-2.
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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Methyl Group Definition in Chemistry." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 27). Methyl Group Definition in Chemistry. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Methyl Group Definition in Chemistry." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).