Carboxylic acid

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Carboxylic acids are organic acids characterized by the presence of at least one carboxyl group.[1] The general formula of a carboxylic acid is R-COOH, where R is some monovalent functional group. A carboxyl group (or carboxy) is a functional group consisting of a carbonyl (RR'C=O) and a hydroxyl (R-O-H), which has the formula -C(=O)OH, usually written as -COOH or -CO2H.[2]

Carboxylic acids are Brønsted-Lowry acids, they are proton donors. They are the most common type of organic acid. Among the simplest examples are formic acid H-COOH, that occurs in ants, and acetic acid CH3-COOH, that gives vinegar its sour taste. Acids with two or more carboxyl groups are called dicarboxylic, tricarboxylic, etc. The simplest dicarboxylic example is oxalic acid (COOH)2, which is just two connected carboxyls. Mellitic acid is an example of a hexacarboxylic acid. Other important natural examples are citric acid (in lemons) and tartaric acid (in tamarinds).

Salts and esters of carboxylic acids are called carboxylates. When a carboxyl group is deprotonated, its conjugate base, a carboxylate anion is formed. Carboxylate ions are resonance stabilized and this increased stability make carboxylic acids more acidic than alcohols. Carboxylic acids can be seen as reduced or alkylated forms of the Lewis acid carbon dioxide; under some circumstances they can be decarboxylated to yield carbon dioxide.

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