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Keywords:

  • chiral;
  • heterochiral;
  • homochiral;
  • stereochemistry;
  • history;
  • Sir William Thomson;
  • Lord Kelvin

Abstract

Although Lord Kelvin first defined the word “chiral” in 1893−1894, references in the literature give dates varying from 1884 to 1904. He referred previously to hetero and homocheiral in 1873 in a note that is now lost. Apparently overlooked have been his definitions of hetero and homochiral in a text that he coauthored in 1879. The etymology of these and other related neologisms is considered. Chirality 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.