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Published: Kem. Ind. 67 (1-2) (2018) 67–71
Paper reference number: KUI-22/2017
Paper type: Professional paper / Chemistry in Teaching
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Etymological Approach to the Teaching of Chemistry

N. Raos


In the teaching of new terms in chemistry, it is not enough to explain their meaning; it is also necessary to explain their etymology. Such an approach leads to a deeper understanding of technical terms and provides an original insight into the history of chemistry. This paper shows through different ways of naming chemical elements (after their physico-chemical properties, in honour of nation or notable scientists), a different attitude toward chemistry and science in the past. On the other hand, analysis of the names of organic substances reveals that organic chemistry was basically an analytical discipline, not a synthetic one. The development of the systematic (IUPAC) nomenclature reflects, however, the rise of organic synthesis since the end of the 19th century. Finding the origin of chemical terms may be both amusing and instructive, and therefore it has to be popularized in the basic teaching of chemistry.

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chemical education, history of chemistry, linguistics, chemical nomenclature, chemical terminology