Hydroxyl Group: Definition, Structure & Formula

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Pyrimidines: Definition & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 What Is a Hydroxyl Group?
  • 0:43 Structure & Formula
  • 1:21 Hydroxyl Group Example
  • 1:52 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: LaRita Williams

LaRita holds a master's degree and is currently an adjunct professor of Chemistry.

In this lesson, we will define the term 'functional group' and talk specifically about the hydroxyl functional group. We will discuss the hydroxyl group's structure and formula and look at an example.

What Is a Hydroxyl Group?

Have you ever used rubbing alcohol to clean a minor cut or scrape? Have you ever seen people drink an adult beverage, such as wine or beer? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you already have some familiarity with hydroxyl groups.

Hydroxyl groups are a class of organic functional groups. In organic chemistry, carbon-containing compounds are grouped according to the arrangement of certain atoms in the molecule. These arrangements are called functional groups, so named because they make the compound function, or react, in a specific way. When a hydroxyl group is the dominant functional group in an organic compound, that compound behaves as an alcohol.

Structure & Formula

Each hydroxyl group that characterizes our alcohols is composed of one oxygen atom singly bonded to a hydrogen atom. This can be represented as -OH or HO- when the compound is drawn or written out. Here, the bond between oxygen and hydrogen is not shown, and the dash represents another single bond from the oxygen atom in the hydroxyl group to a carbon atom in the rest of the molecule.

Here we see the structure of a hydroxyl group:

Hydroxyl Group Chemical Structure

The capital letter 'R' here is used as shorthand for the 'rest' of the compound. This is where that carbon atom connecting the hydroxyl group is located.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account