in chemistry, word-forming element used to form the names of salts from acids in -ic; from Latin -atus, -atum, suffix used in forming adjectives and thence nouns; identical with -ate (1).
The substance formed, for example, by the action of acetic acid (vinegar) on lead was described in the 18th century as plumbum acetatum, i.e. acetated lead. Acetatum was then taken as a noun meaning "the acetated (product)," i.e. acetate. [W.E. Flood, "The Origins of Chemical Names," London, 1963]
before vowels chem-, word-forming element denoting "relation to chemical action or chemicals," from combining form of chemical (adj.), used to form scientific compound words from c. 1900. In 19c., chemico- was used.
chemical suffix used in forming names of radicals, from French -yle, from Greek hylē "wood," also "building stuff, raw material" (from which something is made), of unknown origin. The use in chemistry traces to the latter sense (except in methylene, where it means "wood").
It was introduced into chemical nomenclature by Liebig and Wohler when, in 1832, they used the term benzoyle for the radical which appeared to be the "essential material" of benzoic acid and related compounds. [Flood]