Nomenclature of Nitriles

These are compounds that present the -CN functional group (recommendation C-831.1). When the -CN group acts as a substituent, it is called a nitrile. In simple cases they can be named in four ways (recommendation R-5.7.9):

a) Add the nitrile termination to the name of the hydrocarbon with the same number of carbons.
b) Consider it as a derivative of hydrocyanic acid (HCN), ... cyanide.
c) To name it as derivative of the acid of equal number of carbon atoms (including the -CN group).
d) Consider it as acid derivative where -CN substitutes -COOH (carbonitrile).


  1. Butanenitrile
  2. Propyl cyanide
  3. Butyronitrile
  4. Propanocarbonitrilo

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