phenolphthalein (fēˈnôlthălˈēən) [key], or 2,2-Bis( p -hydroxyphenyl) phthalide, C20H14O4, crystalline organic compound. It is used medicinally as a laxative and is widely employed in the laboratory as an indicator of the acidity or basicity of solutions. In pure water it is insoluble, but it is soluble in basic solutions or in ethanol or acetone. In a solution with p H greater than 8 ( p H 8 is mildly basic) phenolphthalein is pink to red in color, but at p H less than 8 it is colorless. Phenolphthalein is a phenol derivative of phthalic anhydride.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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