Header image of wall of bricks Open menu Close menu


Polyhydric alcohols.

A combination of ‑ite1 and ‑ol.

This is used for the sugar alcohols, derived from a variety of four-, five- and six-carbon carbohydrates by reduction. Many of these were originally named with ‑ite1, but this has been systematically changed to ‑itol to indicate the presence of the extra hydroxyl group —OH. Examples include mannitol (formerly mannite), found in many plants and used as a diuretic; sorbitol, found in some fruits and first isolated from the berries of the mountain ash, Sorbus aucuparia, used by diabetics as an alternative to cane sugar; and xylitol, derived from xylose, present in some plant tissues and used as an artificial sweetener in foods. The ending also appears in the names of some cyclic hexanes, such as inositol, which occurs in animal and plant tissue and is a vitamin of the B group.

Copyright © Michael Quinion 2008–. All rights reserved. Your comments are very welcome.