There is some confusion in chromatography between terms such as solute distribution ratio, distribution constant and partition coefficient. These terms are very precisely defined in the field of liquid-liquid systems and liquid-liquid extraction as well as in the field of chromatography with sometimes conflicting definitions. Countercurrent chromatography (CCC) is a chromatographic technique in which the stationary phase is a support-free liquid. Since the mobile phase is also liquid, biphasic liquid systems are used. This work focuses on the exact meaning of the terms since there are consequences on experimental results. The retention volumes of solutes in CCC are linearly related to their distribution ratios. The partition coefficient that should be termed (IUPAC recommendation) distribution constant is linked to a single definite species. Using benzoic acid that can dimerize in heptane and ionize in aqueous phase and an 18 mL hydrodynamic CCC column, the role and relationships between parameters and the consequences on experimental peak position and shape are discussed. If the heptane/water distribution constant (marginally accepted to be called partition coefficient) of benzoic acid is 0.2 at 20 °C and can be tabulated in books, its CCC measured distribution ratio or distribution coefficient can change between zero (basic aqueous mobile phase) and more than 25 (acidic aqueous mobile phase and elevated concentration). Benzoic acid distribution ratio and partition coefficient coincide only when both dimerization and ionization are quenched, i.e. at very low concentration and pH 2. It is possible to quench dimerization adding butanol in the heptane/water system. However, butanol additions also affect the partition coefficient of benzoic acid greatly by increasing it.