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Difference Between Exothermic and Exergonic

Exothermic vs Exergonic

I thought I was free from my physics class, but one time my school roommate asked me what  “exothermic” and “exergonic” were all about. She needed the answers for her homework, she said. I always jokingly bragged to her about how good I was when I was still studying, but I hope I did not on this occasion. So as not to lose face, I began my usual way of analyzing terms and defining them in my own way by the root word extraction. “Exothermic,” “exo” means “out” and “thermic” means “heat.” “Exothermic probably means ‘heat release,’” I said. I elaborated more to her what “exothermic” was based on my own understanding since I wanted to avoid defining “exergonic.” I definitely didn’t know that term! Then she impatiently asked, “What is exergonic?” Then I said, “Exergonic, ‘exer’ from the word ‘exercise,’ and ‘gonic’ from the word ‘goner.’” “If you don’t sweat a bit from exercise, you’re a goner because the retained heat in your body wouldn’t be able to escape, and as a result, you would be a goner.” That was the lamest explanation I had ever made, but she believed me probably because of the way I explained things. Then I let out a loud laugh and told her the truth. I just offered her my laptop to use instead to search for the differences between “exothermic” and “exergonic.”

This is how the research goes. “Exothermic” literally means “outside heating” (I was right). It is a reaction process wherein energy is released from a system usually in the form of heat and light such as explosions, flames, and sparks. An exothermic reaction may also come in the forms of electricity and sound. Batteries are great examples of an electricity form and the burning of hydrogen for sound. Marcellin Berthelot was the person who coined the term “exothermic.” Exothermic processes are commonly applied in the physical sciences wherein there is an involvement of chemical reactions, particularly the conversion of chemical bond energy to heat or thermal energy. Some examples are: the combustion of fuels such as wood, coal, oil, and petroleum, condensation of rain from water vapor, the  mixing of alkalis and acids, and the setting of cement and concrete.

Here is the information we had found about “exergonic.” “Exergonic” literally means “outside work” which means releasing energy in the form of work (I think I was partially right except on the goner part). In the field of thermodynamics, an exergonic process involves the positive flow of energy from a particular system leading to the surroundings. Since exergonic reactions release energy, this type of reaction will usually occur spontaneously. Why? Because exergonic reactions typically do not require energy for them to occur. An exergonic reaction is a type of chemical reaction that releases free energy to the surroundings. The final state of this reaction is less than its initial state. Examples of exergonic reactions are: the breakdown of sugars through cellular metabolism, catabolism, and respiration.

And that ends the problem! We now know the quick difference between “exothermic” and “exergonic.” Hope this article helps in your homework. To provide a clearer outline of the subjects, here is a summary.


  1. “Exothermic” and “exergonic” reactions are both chemical reactions in the field of thermodynamics. These terms are commonly used in the physical sciences.

  2. “Exothermic” literally means “outside heating” while “exergonic” literally means “outside work.”

  3. Some examples of exothermic reactions are: combustion of fuels such as wood, coal, oil, and petroleum, condensation of rain from water vapor, and mixing of alkalis and acids.

  4. Some examples of exergonic reactions are: catabolism, respiration, and the breakdown of sugars through cellular metabolism.

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  1. great explanation, thanks!!!

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