What is the difference between an electrophile and a nucleophile?

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Jun 5, 2016

A nucleophile donates electrons to an electrophile.

All nucleophiles are Lewis bases, but not all Lewis bases are nucleophiles.

All electrophiles are Lewis acids, but not all Lewis acids are electrophiles.

NUCLEOPHILES VS. LEWIS BASES

The major difference between a nucleophile and a Lewis base is that:

  • Nucleophilic behavior involves making a new bond, and is kinetic behavior.
  • A Lewis base after having donated an electron pair, involved in Bronsted-basic activity, just wants a proton and is thermodynamic behavior.

Both want to donate electrons to accomplish their purposes.

ELECTROPHILES VS. LEWIS ACIDS

The major difference between an electrophile and a Lewis acid is that:

  • Electrophilic behavior involves making a new bond, and is kinetic behavior.
  • A Lewis acid after having accepted an electron pair, involved in Bronsted-acidic activity, just wants to give up a proton and is thermodynamic behavior.

Both want to accept electrons to accomplish their purposes.

In aqueous solution, we can look at the following example:

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