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Named Reactions in Organic Synthesis


Discover the most important named reactions

Today, named chemical reactions play a crucial role in organic synthesis, which continues to grow in its ability to construct ever more complex and diverse chemical molecules.

The first named reaction in organic synthesis, the Lieben Haloform Reaction, had its origin in 1822 when Serullas found that iodine crystals dissolved in a mixture of alkali and ethanol yielded a yellow precipitate which he called “hydroiodide of carbon”, today we know this as iodoform (CHI3).

In 1870, A. Lieben studied the reaction of many carbonyl compounds with iodine and alkali, and postulated rules that formed the basis for the iodoform test. Before spectroscopic methods became widely available for structural identification, the iodoform test helped identify the structure of many organic molecules.

To this day, many new chemical reactions are being reported and named after their discoverers in recognition of their valuable contribution to synthetic organic chemistry.

Visit our pages on the two chemical reaction categories that begin our series on the history, applications, and mechanisms of named reactions:  :

  • Electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions
    • Friedel-Crafts Alkylation and Acylation, Fries Rearrangement, Gattermann-Gattermann-Koch formylation, and Houben-Hoesch Synthesis
  • Nucleophilic substitution reactions
    • Gabriel synthesis, Mitsunobu reaction, Baeyer-Villiger oxidation, Swern oxidation, and Tishchenko reaction

The full series will include:

Electrophilic addition
Heterocycle formation
Pericyclic reactions
Photochemical reactions
Radical reactions
Reactions involving carbonyl compounds
Transition metal catalyzed couplings

Additional reaction categories include: Carbocycle formation, Cyclo-aromatization, Degradation, Elimination reactions, Fragmentation reactions, Oxidation, and Reactions involving carbenes.

We’ll keep you up to date as we add new categories over the next few months.




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