Sum of the atomic weights of all atoms in a chemical formula. The term is generally applied to a substance that consists of ions (see ionic bond) rather than individual molecules (and thus does not have a molecular weight). An example of such a substance is sodium chloride (table salt). Such a substance's chemical formula describes the simplest ratio of the number of atoms of the constituent elements. See also stoichiometry.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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