In organic chemistry, a methylene group is any part of a molecule that consists of two hydrogen atoms bound to a carbon atom, which is connected to the remainder of the molecule by two single bonds. The group may be represented as CH2<, where the '<' denotes the two bonds. This can equally well be represented as −CH2−.
This stands in contrast to a situation where the carbon atom is bound to the rest of the molecule by a double bond, which is preferably called a methylidene group, represented CH2=. Formerly the methylene name was used for both isomers. The name “methylene bridge“ can be used for the single-bonded isomer, to emphatically exclude methylidene. The distinction is often important, because the double bond is chemically different from two single bonds.
The central carbon in 1,3-dicarbonyl compound is known as an activated methylene group. This is because, owing to the structure, the carbon is especially acidic and can easily be deprotonated to form a methylene group.