Scientific name for water

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BigB | 17:14 Thu 25th May 2006 | Science
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Does water have a scientific name? I know it is H2O but what is the actual name (Eg. Hydrogen Dioxide)


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I'm guessing it would be Dihydrogen Oxide
Just hydrogen oxide, no need for the dihydrogen.

There are certain substances that don't have a so-called scientific name, not even in IUPAC nomenclature. Water is one of those; ammonia is another. If you were to call H2O "dihydrogen oxide", or anything else other than "water" in an exam, your answer would be marked as incorrect.

Dihydrogen monoxide (2H atoms and 1 O atom)
Question Author
seems to be a bit of disagreement here. I cant find anything on the net regarding this so i think shammy dodger's answer is probably the most accurate because hes used load of big words and i have no idea what IUPAC is.


While it is true that a literal usage of the IUPAC naming rules would lead to a name of dihydrogen monoxide, as given by SarCaustic, it is also true by IUPAC convention that this is not recognised as the correct name for H2O. Water is the only acceptable term. Similarly, while NH3 might be expected to be called nitrogen trihydride by a strict rendering of the naming rules, this is not recognised either. The only acceptable name is ammonia. A bit strange? Possibly. But they make the rules. We merely have to adhere to them. A bit like golf, I suppose!

By the way

IUPAC = International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Responsible for causing headaches for every budding GCSE science candidate.

Water has a regular scientific or systematic name of hydrogen oxide, as well as an alkali name of hydrogen hydroxide and several acid names such as hydroxic acid, hydroxylic acid, and hydroxilic acid. (From wikipedia)
Pottsy, not your fault but you are quoting rubbish.



I didn't want to be the first to say that. Just goes to show that you shouldn't always believe everything you read on Wikipedia. No scientist worth the description would ever use any of those terms if they wanted to keep their credibility.

Hmmm, didn't realise that H2o could cause so much upset lol

shammydodger is absolutely correct on this. Convention dictates that we must follow the IUPAC rules and it is correct that neither water nor ammonia have alternative "scientific" names despite their prevalence in pub quizes and the like.

IUPAC rules can be a devil to come to terms with on occasions and have caused confusion to the best chemists since their introduction - it has even happened to me and I'm a university biochemistry professor.

In regard to Pottsy's comment, I agree entirely with my fellow chemists, Gef and shammydodger, that the apparent quote from wikipedia is fallacious. The pseudo-scientific names quoted appear impressive but are what I would expect from a class of teenage school students with no concept of the IUPAC rules.

Perhaps, this is the price we have to pay in allowing the general public to edit wikipedia freely.

Crikey Prof, 3 scientists in agreement. We ought to publish a paper. Now, whose name goes first on the submission?
Well, many journals require the most senior scientist's name first but I think I'll be happy with a mere "et al" on this one.

You and Gef can take the credit today!
I have no idea but I just thought this was a brilliant exchange and it shows what can come from such a seemingly simple question !!!
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Thanks everyone, cleared that one up.
yes i've found that (wikipedia) was a little sketchy on a few things.
I think I'll just throw this one into the ring!! (Heh heh).
Have a look at this website - facinating!
Fascinating. Also a spoof. The question has been quite satisfactorily (and correctly) answered by at least 3 scientists. Sequin's referenced article (though I haven't wasted my time by reading it all) is a spoof, while Heathfield's article refers to various species, none of which are H2O and, therefore, not water. Regardless of how "close" to water they may appear to the untrained eye. H2O is water, nothing else. If you don't believe me, try calling it dihydrogen monoxide in an exam and see how many marks you are awarded.

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