Illustrated Glossary of Organic Chemistry

Steric number: The number of atoms, groups, or lone pairs (i.e., electron clouds) around a central atom. The steric number determines molecular geometry.


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Carbon dioxide: steric number = 2; geometry = linear.


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Boron trifluoride: steric number = 3; geometry = trigonal planar.


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Methane: steric number = 4; geometry = tetrahedral.


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Phosphorus pentachloride: steric number = 5; geometry = trigonal bipyramid.


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Sulfur hexafluoride: steric number = 6; geometry = octahedral.