Blog / Carboxylic Acids Description

Carboxylic Acids: Description

Written by Sabina Cabrera on Mar 27, 2020

Carboxylic acids are functional groups composed of one carbonyl and one hydroxyl group, written as (-COOH).

1.Nomenclature

When naming compounds with a carboxylic acid group present, it is appropriate to replace the ending (the -e, for example) with -oic acid. The acidity of the carboxylic acid comes from the ability to donate the proton on the -OH substituent.

2.Physical Properties

Due to the strong hydrogen-bonding, two important factors with carboxylic acids are that they have a high boiling point but are also soluble in water and other organic solvents such as toluene and ethanol. Carboxylic acids are also highly reactive to two factors: the two electron-rich oxygens in the carbonyl and alcohol portion of the functional group, and the electron-poor carbon between the carbonyl alcohol group, which is a desirable attack location for nucleophiles.

Key Takeaways:

  • Compounds with a carboxylic acid group present adopt the suffix -oic acid in their nomenclature.
  • Carboxylic acids have a high boiling point and have an easily reactive electron-poor carbon.

Key Terms:

  • Carbonyl: Group containing double-bonded carbon and oxygen, written as C=O
  • Alcohol: Group containing a hydroxyl, written as -OH


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