As applied to @[email protected], the term expresses a thermodynamic property, which is quantitatively measured by relative molar standard Gibbs energies. A chemical species A is more stable than its @[email protected] B if \(\Delta _{\text{r}}G^{\,\unicode{x26ac}} > 0\) for the (real or hypothetical) reaction \[\text{A}\quad \rightarrow \quad \text{B}\] under standard conditions. If for the two reactions: \[\text{P}\rightarrow \text{X}+\text{Y}\qquad (\Delta _{\text{r}}G_{1}^{\text{o}})\] \[\text{Q}\rightarrow \text{X}+\text{Z}\qquad (\Delta _{\text{r}}G_{2}^{\text{o}})\] \(\Delta _{\text{r}}G_{1}^{\,\unicode{x26ac}} > \Delta _{\text{r}}G_{2}^{\,\unicode{x26ac}}\), P is more stable relative to the product Y than is Q relative to Z. Both in qualitative and quantitative usage the term stable is therefore always used in reference to some explicitly stated or implicitly assumed standard. The term should not be used as a synonym for @[email protected] or 'less reactive' since this confuses thermodynamics and kinetics. A relatively more stable chemical species may be more @[email protected] than some reference species towards a given reaction partner.
See also:
PAC, 1994, 66, 1077. (Glossary of terms used in physical organic chemistry (IUPAC Recommendations 1994)) on page 1166 [Terms] [Paper]