MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: What the names of monosaccharides come from

Date: Thu Apr 7 13:31:30 2005
Posted By: Michael S. Robeson II, PhD Student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Dept.
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 1112809643.Bc

That's a pretty good question. I have wondered that myself. Anyway, after much searching I came across a web site (linked below) that briefly discusses the matter and provides historical references.

You were pretty much there when figuring out the origin of the names of sugars. Many of the sugars are named after where they are obtained. For example, "Traubenzucker" (glucose) stood for grape sugar and "Rohrzucker" (saccharose) for cane sugar. "Fruit sugar" was termed fructose which was also named "laevulose" (becasue it was laevorotatory).

Eventually, with names like dextrose (because glucose is dextrorotatory) and fructose the standard addition of "-ose" to the end of sugar naming became standardized.

See the second link for a fuller description of the terms "laevorotatory" and "dextrorotatory".

The following links below provide far more information about the topic:



Moderator's note: The use of the suffix -ose to refer to saccharides was originated by Anselme Payen, who discovered (and named) cellulose. In addition, you can find some resources on the Scripps National Spelling Bee's Study Aids page that might help you in determining the origins of the roots in some of these names.

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