AskDefine | Define inorganic

Dictionary Definition

inorganic adj
1 relating or belonging to the class of compounds not having a carbon basis; "hydrochloric and sulfuric acids are called inorganic substances" [ant: organic]
2 lacking the properties characteristic of living organisms [ant: organic]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. relating to a compound that does not contain carbon



  1. An inorganic compound

See also

Extensive Definition

Traditionally, inorganic compounds are considered to be of mineral, not biological, origin. Complementarily, most organic compounds are traditionally viewed as being of biological origin. Over the past century, the precise classification of inorganic vs organic compounds has become less important to scientists, primarily because the majority of known compounds are synthetic and not of natural origin. Furthermore, most compounds considered the purview of modern inorganic chemistry contain organic ligands. The fields of organometallic chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry explicitly focus on the areas between the fields of organic, biological, and inorganic chemistry.
Inorganic compounds can be formally defined with reference to what they are not—organic compounds. Organic compounds are those which contain carbon, although some carbon-containing compounds are traditionally considered inorganic. When considering inorganic chemistry and life, it is useful to recall that many species in nature are not compounds per se but are ions. Sodium, chloride, and phosphate ions are essential for life, as are some inorganic molecules such as carbonic acid, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water and oxygen. Aside from these simple ions and molecules, virtually all species covered by bioinorganic chemistry contain carbon and can be considered organic or organometallic.

Inorganic carbon compounds

Many compounds that contain carbon are considered inorganic; for example, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonates, cyanides, cyanates, carbides, and thyocyanates. In general, however, workers in these areas are not concerned about strict definitions.

Coordination chemistry

A large class of compounds discussed in inorganic chemistry textbooks are coordination compounds. Examples range from species that are strictly inorganic, such as [Co(NH3)6]Cl3, to organometallic compounds such as Fe(C5H5)2 and extending to bioinorganic compounds, such as the hydrogenase enzymes.


Minerals are mainly oxides and sulfides, which are strictly inorganic. In fact, most of the earth and the universe is inorganic. Although the components of the earth's crust are well elucidated, the processes of mineralization and the composition of the deep mantle remain active areas of investigation, which are mainly covered in geology-oriented venues.

Inorganic compounds and materials science

Major classes of inorganic compound are studied and developed by chemists trained in materials science. Species of interest tend to be polymeric (non-molecular) and refractory, and often such materials are of commercial interest. In general these inorganic compounds are classified based on their bulk properties, not their composition or structure:
inorganic in Czech: Anorganická sloučenina
inorganic in Modern Greek (1453-): Ανόργανη ένωση
inorganic in Spanish: Compuesto inorgánico
inorganic in Galician: Composto inorgánico
inorganic in Korean: 무기 화합물
inorganic in Italian: Composto inorganico
inorganic in Hebrew: תרכובת אי-אורגנית
inorganic in Lithuanian: Neorganinis junginys
inorganic in Dutch: Anorganische verbindingen
inorganic in Japanese: 無機化合物
inorganic in Norwegian Nynorsk: Uorganiske sambindingar
inorganic in Polish: Związki nieorganiczne
inorganic in Portuguese: Composto inorgânico
inorganic in Russian: Неорганические соединения
inorganic in Simple English: Inorganic compound
inorganic in Slovak: Anorganická zlúčenina
inorganic in Finnish: Epäorgaaninen yhdiste
inorganic in Thai: สารประกอบอนินทรีย์
inorganic in Ukrainian: Неорганічні сполуки
inorganic in Chinese: 无机化合物
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