AskDefine | Define carboxylate

Dictionary Definition

carboxylate v : treat (a chemical compound) with carboxyl or carboxylic acid

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. Any salt or ester of a carboxylic acid.

Extensive Definition

A carboxylate anion is an ion with negative charge that contains the group -COO−. It is the conjugate base of a carboxylic acid.
Carboxylic acids dissociate into a carboxylate ion and a positively-charged hydrogen ion (proton) much more readily than alcohols dissociate (into an alkoxide ion and a proton), because the carboxylate ion is more stable: the negative charge that is left behind when a proton leaves the carboxylate group is 'shared' between the two electronegative oxygen atoms in a resonance structure. This delocalization of the electron cloud means that neither of the oxygen atoms is so strongly negatively charged; the positively-charged proton is therefore less readily attracted back to the carboxylate group once it has left. On the other hand, an alkoxide ion, once formed, would have a strong negative charge on the oxygen atom, which would make it difficult for the proton to escape. Thus, the carboxylate ion is more stable - this is also why carboxylic acids have a lower pH than alcohols: the higher the number of protons that escape into solution, the lower the pH.

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References

carboxylate in French: Ion carboxylate
carboxylate in Swedish: Karboxylatjon
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