A primary alcohol is an alcohol in which the hydroxy group is bonded to a primary carbon atom. It can also be defined as a molecule containing a “–CH2OH” group.[1] In contrast, a secondary alcohol has a formula “–CHROH” and a tertiary alcohol has a formula “–CR2OH”, where “R” indicates a carbon-containing group.

Examples of primary alcohols include ethanol and 1-butanol.

Methanol is also generally regarded as a primary alcohol,[2][3] including by the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.[4]

See also


  1. ^ "Definition: primary alcohol from Online Medical Dictionary". Retrieved 2007-11-22. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Introducing Alcohols". Jim Clark (2015). Retrieved 2023-09-29.
  3. ^ Albert S. Tarendash (2001). Let's review: chemistry, the physical setting. Boston, Mass: Barron's. p. 161. ISBN 0-7641-1664-9.
  4. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alcohols" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 527.