The key difference between oxy and hydro is that we use the term oxy to name compounds containing oxygen atoms whereas we use the term hydro to name compounds containing hydrogen atoms.
The terms “oxy” and “hydro” are useful in the field of chemistry as well as in common use. Generally, we can use them in the nomenclature of acids and many organic compounds. For example, the term oxy is useful in naming ethers. Although the term hydro is useful in naming compounds having hydrogen atoms, in common use, this term is useful in naming anything related with water.
What is Oxy?
Oxy is a term that we use to name compounds containing oxygen atoms. Most of the times, we use it to name ethers. It is a suffix in IUPAC nomenclature. A suffix is a group of letters that we add to the terminal of a name in order to describe the intended compound properly. For example, ethers contain a single oxygen atom bonded to two alkyl or aryl groups (R1-O-R2). It is the unique structure of an ether. Therefore, we name this single oxygen atom in the middle of two alkyl groups as “oxy”. Ex: if the two alkyl groups bonded to the oxygen atom are methyl groups, then we name the ether as “methoxy methane”.
Moreover, the functional group CH3-O is “methoxy group”. If this group is present in a molecule, we say that molecule has a methoxy group.
What is Hydro?
Hydro is a term that we use to name compounds containing hydrogen atoms. As a common example, hydrocarbons are chemical species which has carbon and hydrogen atoms as the major components. Sometimes we can use this term to name peroxides containing hydrogen atoms bonded to a peroxide group. These are “hydroperoxides” (ROOH). There are functional groups that derive from these compounds, we call them “hydroperoxy” groups.
Moreover, we can use this term to name some common acids such as binary acids. Ex: HF is hydrofluoric acid, HCl is hydrochloric acid. Further to that, we can use it in the addition of hydrogen to a molecule. Ex: hydrogenation is the addition of hydrogen. As a common term, we use it to name anything related to water. Ex: Hydropower.
What is the Difference Between Oxy and Hydro?
Oxy is a term that we use to name compounds containing oxygen atoms. More importantly, we use this term in the nomenclature in chemistry to name ethers. Hydro is a term that we use to name compounds containing hydrogen atoms. It is very useful in naming common acids such as binary acids; HF, HCl, HBr, etc. This is the main difference between oxy and hydro. Moreover, both these terms are very important in naming different chemical compounds.
Summary – Oxy vs Hydro
There are many prefixes and suffixes we use in chemistry in order to name chemical compounds. “oxy”, and “hydro” are two such terms. The difference between oxy and hydro is that we use the term oxy to name compounds containing oxygen atoms whereas we use the term hydro to name compounds containing hydrogen atoms.
1. “IUPAC Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 July 2018. Available here
2. Libretexts. “Nomenclature of Ethers.” Chemistry LibreTexts, Libretexts, 6 Dec. 2016. Available here