What is the letter "C" for the element carbon?

1 Answer
Jan 27, 2017

Not much to say other than it's the chemical symbol for carbon. It's from the latin, carbo, meaning coal. It's just a convenient way of denoting carbon atoms in a chemical compound or molecule.

  • #"CH"_4# conveys the structure of methane, without having to explain what "methane" means.
  • #"CH"_3"CH"_2"OH"# conveys the structure of this two-carbon alcohol, instead of requiring one to explain what "ethanol" means.

Similarly, #"Ag"#, or argentum from the latin, denotes the element silver, for convenience of conveying structural details.