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Any of a large and important class of chemical compounds in which oxygen is combined with another element. Metal oxides contain a metal cation and the oxide anion (O); they typically react with water to form bases or with acids to form salts. Oxides of nonmetallic elements are volatile compounds in which a covalent bond joins the oxygen and the nonmetal; they react with water to form acids or with bases to form salts. A few substances (e.g., aluminum, zinc) form amphoteric oxides, which form salts with both acids and bases. Certain organic compounds form oxides in which the oxygen is covalently bonded to an atom of nitrogen (amine oxides), phosphorus (phosphine oxides), or sulfur (sulfoxides) in the organic molecule.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on oxide, visit Britannica.com.