What is the scientific name for oxygen?

The scientific name for oxygen is O2, representing its molecular formula composed of two oxygen atoms bonded together. In the periodic table, oxygen is classified as a non-metal element with the atomic number 8 and symbol ‘O’. It is a crucial component of the Earth’s atmosphere and plays a vital role in supporting life through the process of respiration.

Oxygen is essential for the survival of most living organisms, serving as a key element in the process of cellular respiration to produce energy. Its abundance and reactivity make it a significant element in various chemical reactions and industrial processes. Understanding the scientific name and properties of oxygen is important in fields such as chemistry, biology, and environmental science.

Oxygen, the essential gas required for sustaining life, has a scientific name that is recognized and used in the scientific community. In this article, we will explore the scientific name for oxygen, its origin, and its significance in various scientific fields.

The Chemical Element Oxygen

Oxygen is a chemical element represented by the symbol O on the periodic table. It belongs to the group of nonmetals and is classified as a chalcogen. Oxygen is one of the most abundant elements on Earth, making up approximately 21% of the atmosphere.

The Scientific Name for Oxygen

The scientific name for oxygen is dioxygen represented by the chemical formula O2. The term “dioxygen” is derived from the Greek words “di” (meaning two) and “oxys” (meaning acid or sharp). This name reflects the element’s characteristic of combining with various elements and forming compounds.

It’s important to note that the scientific name for oxygen refers specifically to two oxygen atoms bonded together as a diatomic molecule (O2). This is the form of oxygen that is essential for living organisms to carry out respiration and other vital processes.

The Discovery of Oxygen

Oxygen was discovered by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheelein 1772. However, the credit for its recognition as a distinct element is often attributed to the English chemist Joseph Priestley who independently isolated oxygen in 1774.

Joseph Priestley referred to the gas he discovered as “dephlogisticated air” due to the prevailing theory of phlogiston at the time. It was only later that the name “oxygen” was proposed by the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier who recognized its role in supporting combustion.

Significance of the Scientific Name

The scientific name dioxygenhelps in distinguishing molecular oxygen (O2) from other forms of oxygen, such as ozone (O3) and reactive oxygen species. This distinction is crucial in various scientific fields, including chemistry, biochemistry, and environmental science.


In the field of chemistry, the term “dioxygen” is used to describe the molecular form of oxygen that participates in chemical reactions. Dioxygen is involved in numerous oxidation-reduction reactions and plays a vital role in combustion, respiration, and the formation of various compounds.

Understanding the scientific name for oxygen helps chemists communicate effectively and clarify the specific type of oxygen being referred to in their research or discussions.

Biochemistry and Biology

In biochemistry and biology, the scientific name for oxygen is essential for understanding the processes of cellular respiration and energy production in living organisms. Dioxygen serves as the final electron acceptor in the electron transport chain, facilitating the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Additionally, oxygen is involved in oxidative processes responsible for breaking down substrates and generating energy. The scientific name distinguishes it from other forms of oxygen, allowing for precise communication and study of these biological processes.

Environmental Science

In environmental science, the scientific name dioxygenhelps in studying oxygen levels and its role in various ecosystems. Monitoring dioxygen levels in water bodies, such as lakes and oceans, is crucial for evaluating water quality and the health of aquatic life.

Furthermore, studying dioxygen levels in the atmosphere assists in understanding the impacts of air pollution and climate change. The scientific name allows scientists to distinguish between molecular oxygen and other gases present in the atmosphere.

The scientific name for oxygen, dioxygen distinguishes the molecular form of oxygen (O2) from other forms and is widely used in the scientific community. Understanding this name is crucial for effective communication and precise study in various scientific fields, including chemistry, biochemistry, and environmental science. So, next time you refer to the life-sustaining gas we breathe, remember its scientific name – dioxygen!


1. “Oxygen.” Chemicool. https://www.chemicool.com/elements/oxygen.html

2. “Oxygen.” Royal Society of Chemistry. https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/8/oxygen

3. “Oxygen.” Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/oxygen-chemical-element

4. “Oxygen History.” The Science History Institute. https://www.sciencehistory.org/historical-profile/oxygen-history

The scientific name for oxygen is O2. Oxygen is a vital element essential for sustaining life on Earth and plays a crucial role in various biochemical processes.

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