Of all the widely accepted ones out there, according to you, which is it? I vote for the free radical scavenger they put in ethers to avoid peroxide disasters


BHTButylated HydroxyToulene

It is preposterous. Because:

1. ‘Butylated’ implies butyl groups were added to a core structure (synthetically), which is not the case
2. The name does not specify that the butyl groups are tertiary, or how many of them there are
3. ‘Hydroxytoluene’ (BTW, why not ‘methylphenol’?) already has a name: cresol
4. It is overall impossible, even when you know what BHT stands for, to connect the name with the correct structure

You got something even better worse?


11 Responses to The stupidest abbreviation in chemistry

  1. Ckellz says:

    I always see this as a trace peak in our GC-MS…such a dumb acronym…while it doesn’t bother me I know a couple of people who don’t like MTBE because it really should be t-BME, I personally am not a fan of HATU

  2. Maksim says:

    As for me, I don’t like EDC. Too simple abbreviation for a complicated structure!

    • james says:

      What’s worse than EDC is WSC! they stand for the same thing! I always used EDCI as the abbreviation.

      WSC = water soluble carbodiimide

  3. Brandon says:

    All of the peptide coupling reagents have horrible names. HOBt is HydrOxy Benzotriazole instead of HBT, while TBTU somehow means O-(Benzotriazol-1-yl)-N,N,N’,N’-tetramethyluronium tetrafluoroborate. HBTU and PyBop follow similarly.

  4. JH says:

    I think BHT is actually made by Friedel-Crafts alkylation of p-cresol by isobutene or some other t-butyl cation source… So how come it isn’t butylated?

  5. See Arr Oh says:

    NMR spectroscopists: why did you ever think INADEQUATE was a good name for a technique?

    • chemical blender says:

      I, however, have always liked the Proton-Enhanced Nuclear Induction Spectroscopy technique. NMR spectroscopists… Always searching for a new name.

  6. Luke Scientiae says:

    Come, on. Are you kidding guys? It seems like this is bait for me to come along and mention the obvious candidate.


    Take a peek here:


    If the acronym used in the paper I’ve linked to doesn’t trump all those mentioned already, then I don’t know what you’re looking for. Though it depends on your definition of “widely accepted”. This one certainly was widely accepted enough to get huge coverage at the time.

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