Cyanide anion
Space-filling model of the cyanide anion: carbon bound to smaller nitrogen atom
Preferred IUPAC name
Systematic IUPAC name
3D model (JSmol)
  • InChI=1S/CN/c1-2/q-1
  • [C-]#N
Molar mass 26.018 g·mol−1
Conjugate acid Hydrogen cyanide
Occupational safety and health (OHS/OSH):
Main hazards
The cyanide ion CN is one of the most poisonous chemicals. It may cause death in minutes.
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).

In chemistry, a cyanide (from Greek kyanos 'dark blue') is a chemical compound that contains a C≡N functional group. This group, known as the cyano group, consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom.[1]

In inorganic cyanides, the cyanide group is present as the cyanide anion C≡N. This anion is extremely poisonous. Soluble salts such as sodium cyanide (NaCN) and potassium cyanide (KCN) are highly toxic.[2] Hydrocyanic acid, also known as hydrogen cyanide, or HCN, is a highly volatile liquid that is produced on a large scale industrially. It is obtained by acidification of cyanide salts.

Organic cyanides are usually called nitriles. In nitriles, the −C≡N group is linked by a single covalent bond to carbon. For example, in acetonitrile (CH3−C≡N), the cyanide group is bonded to methyl (−CH3). Although nitriles generally do not release cyanide ions, the cyanohydrins do and are thus toxic.

  1. ^ "cyanides". IUPAC Gold Book. 2014. doi:10.1351/goldbook.C01486.
  2. ^ "Environmental and Health Effects of Cyanide". International Cyanide Management Institute. 2006. Archived from the original on 30 November 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2009.