What is a Binary Compound? - Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Measurements & Uncertainty in Science

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

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 The Prefix Bi
  • 0:29 What Is a Binary Compound?
  • 1:32 Examples of Binary Compounds
  • 3:22 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 Audio mode

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will teach you the definition of a binary compound and go over several examples of binary compounds and non-binary compounds so you can become a pro at spotting both!

The Prefix Bi

Bicycle, biped, biceps, Bieber. Ok, maybe not the last one. But the first three, what do they all have in common? They all have two of something because they have a similar prefix of bi-, which means two. That's exactly what a binary compound involves as well. Let's figure out what this is and what it is not and then go over a few examples of binary compounds.

What Is A Binary Compound?

In chemistry, a binary compound is something consisting of precisely two elements. An element is a type of substance that can't be further divided into simpler substances through chemical methods. Any of those boxes on a periodic table of elements represent an element. A few examples of chemical elements are hydrogen, oxygen, and iron. This means that a binary compound will be composed of two different chemical elements.

In a binary compound, there may be only one of each element. We see this with sodium chloride (salt) NaCl, which has one sodium (Na) and one chlorine (Cl). Still, we see some binary compounds that may have more than one of each element, like nitrous oxide N2O that has two nitrogen (N) and one oxygen (O). N2O is also called laughing gas, and you'll probably encounter it if you ever have to make a trip to the dentist to get your wisdom teeth removed. From acids to salts, binary compounds are always nearby.

Examples of Binary Compounds

Let's take a little trip to see some real-world example of binary compounds. First, let's go a nearby river for a swim. You'll see H2O absolutely everywhere. What is H2O? It's water. Is it a binary compound? Well, it contains two different chemical elements: hydrogen and oxygen. Thus, it's a binary compound.

The river turns out to be too cold to swim in comfortably, but we can pan for gold. In fact, you get really lucky and spot some gold in your pan! Is gold, or Au, a binary compound? Nope, gold is just one chemical element (Au).

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