History and Usage of Arrows in Chemistry

  • DOI: 10.1002/chemv.201200127
  • Author: Santiago Alvarez and ChemViews
  • Published Date: 06 November 2012
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
thumbnail image: History and Usage of Arrows in Chemistry



The arrow is used in almost every field of human activity
, from prehistoric cave paintings depicting hunting scenes to traffic signs. In chemistry, arrows have played a variety of roles and the exact meaning of each type of arrow used has evolved with our understanding of substances, reactivity, and structure.






Arrows in Alchemy Symbols

Arrows in Alchemy Symbols


Alchemists and early chemists used a range of symbols to represent substances. Among them, an arrow and a circle were commonly used for iron-based compounds. The adoption of alphabetical atomic symbols rendered these obsolete.




Timeline of Modern Usage of Arrows in Chemistry

Timeline of Modern Usage of Arrows in Chemistry





  Range and Meaning of Modern Arrows in Chemistry

The Range and Meaning of Modern Arrows in Chemistry


ar·row n. 1. a slender, straight, generally pointed missile or weapon made to be shot from a bow and equipped with feathers at the end of the shaft near the nock, for controlling flight. 2. anything resembling an arrow in form, function, or character. 3. a linear figure having a wedge-shaped end, used in maps, architectural drawings, etc., to indicate direction or placement.[1]



[1] Websters Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Gramercy Books, New York, USA, 1996.

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