Carbonyl Definition in Chemistry

Carbonyl Definition in Chemistry

Organic chemistry contains names for many different molecules and groups of molecules that participate in chemical reactions. These groups of molecules are called functional groups. The carbonyl group is an important group that contains the element carbon.

Carbonyl Definition

The term carbonyl refers to the carbonyl functional group which is a divalent group consisting of a carbon atom with a double-bond to oxygen, C=O. Carbonyl also may refer to a compound formed by a metal with carbon monoxide (=CO). Bivalent radical CO is found in ketones, acids, and aldehydes. Many of the molecules involved in the senses of smell and taste involve aromatic compounds with carbonyl groups.

The C=O entity is the carbonyl group, while a molecule that contains the group is called a carbonyl compound.

Also Known As: carbonyl group, carbonyl functional group

Carbonyl Example

The metal compound nickel carbonate, Ni(CO)4, contains the CO carbonyl group.


  • Wade, Jr., L.G. (2002). Organic Chemistry (5th ed.). Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-033832-X