Definition: Organic compound

From New World Encyclopedia


Organic from Middle English organic, organik, from Old French organique, via Latin organicus from Greek organikos ("relating to an organ or instrument") and compound From Middle English compounen, from Middle French componre, compondre (“to put together”), from Latin componō, from Latin com- (“together”) + ponō (“to put”).

Not only are organic compounds essential to living organisms, but the common belief until the nineteenth century was that only living organisms could produce them, whence the name. When it was shown in the early 1800s that they could also be produced synthetically in the laboratory, the old name was kept.


organic compound (plural organic compounds)

  1. (organic chemistry) Any compound containing carbon atoms covalently bound to other atoms.
    Meteorites contain a wide range of organic compounds

Usage notes

By convention they do not include the carbides, carbonates, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide; carbon disulphide is debatable.


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors copied and adjusted this Wiktionary entry in accordance with NWE standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit for this article is due to both New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions at Wiktionary is accessible to researchers here: