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Any member of either of two classes of nitrogen-containing organic compounds related to ammonia and amines and containing a carbonyl group (CO; seefunctional group). The first class, covalent amides are formed by replacing the hydroxyl group (OH) of an acid with an amino group (NR, in which R may represent a hydrogen atom or an organic combining group, such as methyl). Amides formed from carboxylic acids, called carboxamides, are solids except for the simplest, formamide, a liquid. They do not conduct electricity, have high boiling points, and (when liquid) are good solvents. There are no practical natural sources of simple covalent amides, but the peptides and proteins in living systems are long chains (polymers) with peptide bonds (seecovalent bond), which are amide linkages. Urea is an amide with two amino groups. Commercially important covalent amides include several used as solvents; others are the sulfa drugs and nylon. The second class, ionic (salt-like) amides (seeionic bond), are made by treating a covalent amide, an amine, or ammonia with a reactive metal (e.g., sodium) and are strongly alkaline.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on amide, visit Britannica.com.