Dictionary Definition

phenolphthalein n : a laxative used in many preparations under various trade names; also used as an acid-base indicator in titrations involving weak acids and strong bases because it is brilliant red at high alkalinity and colorless below pH 8

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A quinone derivative used as a pH indicator, and once used as a laxative

Extensive Definition

Phenolphthalein is a chemical compound with the formula C20H14O4 (often written as "HIn" or "phph" in shorthand notation). Often used in titrations, it turns colorless in acidic solutions and pink in basic solutions. If the concentration of indicator is particularly strong, it can appear purple.
In strongly basic solutions, phenolphthalein's pink color undergoes a rather slow fading reaction and becomes colorless again. In other words, the molecule has four forms:
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