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The word amine (and the adjectival form amino) has a long and surprising history-starting with the Ancient Egyptian king of the gods, Amon Ra. But starting a little closer to home, the word amino was coined in 1887 by shortening the word ammonia which itself was a modern Latinization of the Ancient Greek ammoniakos. The word ammoniakos was the Ancient Greek word to denote 'of Amon', from the name of the King of the Egyptian pantheon, Amon-Ra. What is the connection between amines and the King of the Gods? When Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman (1735–1784) coined the word ammonia in 1782, he was thinking of the Roman Temple of Jupiter in Libya, also known to the Greeks as the Temple of Zeus and formerly known as the Temple of Amon-Ra, a source of salt deposits containing ammonium chloride. The building blocks of life and foundation of modern biology, medicine, and genetics are named after the Ancient Egyptian King of the Gods!

Today, amines are defined as organic compounds and functional groups that contain a basic nitrogen atom with a lone pair. Amines are derivatives of ammonia, wherein one or more hydrogen atoms have been replaced by a substituent such as an alkyl or aryl group.

Image of Amon-Ra by Dennis Jarvis. Image of Temple of Jupiter by Sebastia Giralt. Image of ammonia molecule by Ben Mills. Image of Amino Acid table by Dan Cojocari, University Health Network, University of Toronto. All images used by permission under CC 3.0 license. Definition of Amines courtesy Wikipedia.

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