Guillaume-François Rouelle

Guillaume François Rouelle (15 September 1703 – 3 August 1770)[1] was a French chemist and apothecary. In 1754 he introduced the concept of a base into chemistry as a substance which reacts with an acid to form a salt).

Guillaume-François Rouelle
Guillaume-François Rouelle.jpg
Guillaume-François Rouelle
Born15 September 1703
Mathieu, France
Died3 August 1770 (aged 66)
Paris, France
Known forBase
Scientific career
InfluencedDenis Diderot
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier
Joseph Proust
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

He is known as l'Aîné (the elder) to distinguish him from his younger brother, Hilaire Rouelle, who was also a chemist and known as the discoverer of urea.

He started a public course in his laboratory in 1738 where he taught many students among whom were Denis Diderot, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, Joseph Proust and Antoine-Augustin Parmentier.

He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1749.

Why bases for neutral salts were called basesEdit

The modern meaning of the word "base" and its general introduction into the chemical vocabulary are usually attributed to the French chemist, Guillaume-François Rouelle (1703–1770), who used the term "Base" in a memoir on salts written in 1754 (see The Origin of the Term "Base" by William B. Jensen).[2] In this paper, which was an extension of an earlier memoir on the same subject written in 1744, Rouelle pointed out that the number of known salts had increased significantly during the 17th and early 18th centuries. This was due not only to the preparation of new salts, but also to an increasing ability to distinguish between sodium and potassium compounds, and to a generalization of the concept so as to include many substances, such as the alums and vitriols (i.e., sulfates), that had been previously excluded. In order to incorporate this extended concept of salt formation, Rouelle explicitly defined a neutral salt as the product formed by the union of an acid with any substance, be it a water-soluble alkali, a volatile alkali, an absorbent earth, a metal, or an oil, capable of serving as "a base" for the salt "by giving it a concrete or solid form".[2][3]


  1. ^ Dorveaux, Paul (1933). "Apothicaires membres de l'Académie Royale des sciences : IX. Guillaume-François Rouelle". Revue d'Histoire de la Pharmacie (in French). 84 (December): 169–186. doi:10.3406/pharm.1933.10035. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b Jensen, William B. (2006). "The origin of the term "base"". The Journal of Chemical Education. 83 (8): 1130. Bibcode:2006JChEd..83.1130J. doi:10.1021/ed083p1130.
  3. ^ Source

Further readingEdit