# formula weight

Also found in: Dictionary, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

## formula weight,

in chemistry, a quantity computed by multiplying the atomic weight**atomic weight,**

mean (weighted average) of the masses of all the naturally occurring isotopes of a chemical element, as contrasted with atomic mass, which is the mass of any individual isotope. Although the first atomic weights were calculated at the beginning of the 19th cent.

**.....**Click the link for more information. (in atomic mass units) of each element

**element,**

in chemistry, a substance that cannot be decomposed into simpler substances by chemical means. A substance such as a compound can be decomposed into its constituent elements by means of a chemical reaction, but no further simplification can be achieved.

**.....**Click the link for more information. in a formula

**formula,**

in chemistry, an expression showing the chemical composition of a compound. Formulas of compounds are used in writing the equations (see chemical equations) that represent chemical reactions. Compounds are combinations in fixed proportions of the chemical elements.

**.....**Click the link for more information. by the number of atoms of that element present in the formula, and then adding all of these products together. For example, the formula weight of water (H

_{2}O) is two times the atomic weight of hydrogen plus one times the atomic weight of oxygen. Numerically, this is (2×1.00797)+(1×15.9994)=2.01594+15.9994=18.01534. If the formula used in computing the formula weight is the molecular formula, the formula weight computed is the molecular weight

**molecular weight,**

weight of a molecule of a substance expressed in atomic mass units (amu). The molecular weight may be calculated from the molecular formula of the substance; it is the sum of the atomic weights of the atoms making up the molecule.

**.....**Click the link for more information. . The percentage by weight of any atom or group of atoms in a compound can be computed by dividing the total weight of the atom (or group of atoms) in the formula by the formula weight and multiplying by 100. For example, the weight percentage of hydrogen in water is determined by taking two times the atomic weight of hydrogen, dividing it by the formula weight of water, and multiplying by 100. Numerically, this is 100×(2×1.00797)/18.01534=11.19% hydrogen in water by weight. Formula weights are especially useful in determining the relative weights of reagents and products in a chemical reaction. For example, it is known that two molecules of hydrogen gas, H

_{2}, react with one molecule of oxygen gas, O

_{2}, to form two molecules of water, H

_{2}O. This reaction may be represented by the chemical equation

**chemical equation,**

group of symbols representing a chemical reaction.

**Basic Notation Used in Equations**

The chemical equation 2H

_{2}+O

_{2}→2H

_{2}O represents the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to form water.

**.....**Click the link for more information. 2H

_{2}+O

_{2}→2H

_{2}O. The formula weight of hydrogen gas is 2.01594, that of oxygen gas 31.9998, and that of water 18.01534. Our chemical equation is numerically equivalent to 2×2.01594+31.9998=2×18.01534 or 4.03188+31.9998=36.03068 if the formula weight of each reactant is substituted for the formula of that reactant. From this equation we know, for example, that 4.03188 grams of hydrogen gas will react with 31.9998 grams of oxygen gas to yield 36.03068 grams of water. The relative proportions by weight of these reactants is the same in any reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to form water. These relative weights computed from the chemical equation are sometimes called equation weights.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

## formula weight

[′fȯr·myə·lə ‚wāt] (chemistry)

The gram-molecular weight of a substance.

In the case of a substance of uncertain molecular weight such as certain proteins, the molecular weight calculated from the composition, assuming that the element present in the smallest proportion is represented by only one atom.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Want to thank TFD for its existence? Tell a friend about us, add a link to this page, or visit the webmaster's page for free fun content.

Link to this page: