noun, often attributive
ni·​tro·​gen | \ ˈnī-trə-jən How to pronounce nitrogen (audio) \

Definition of nitrogen

: a nonmetallic chemical element that under standard conditions is a colorless, odorless, inert gas, that constitutes 78 percent of the Earth's atmosphere, and that is used especially in the industrial synthesis of ammonia, as a component of inert atmospheres, and in liquid form as a refrigerant — see Chemical Elements Table

Examples of nitrogen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On surfacing, after a three-minute safety stop 15-feet below the surface to ensure nitrogen is released from the bloodstream safely to avoid decompression sickness, divers wait by their float as Capt. John Christopher Fine,, "Boynton Beach diving: Underwater surprises await | Opinion," 31 Dec. 2020 On both bodies, the atmosphere contains methane, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Like Titan, Pluto’s atmosphere is hazy, but for a different reason," 28 Dec. 2020 Your metabolism accomplishes three main jobs: converting food into energy; breaking down food into its building blocks for protein, lipid, nucleic acid and some carbohydrate; and eliminating nitrogen wastes. Terezie Tolar-peterson, The Conversation, "Whether slow or fast, here’s how your metabolism influences how many calories you burn each day," 28 Dec. 2020 Surprisingly, coffee grounds contain about four times more nitrogen than manure and slightly less phosphorus and potassium. Tom Maccubbin,, "Install bougainvilleas now, unless there is a freeze risk," 26 Dec. 2020 Technicians put the cells in vials for storage in liquid nitrogen tanks. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "How to Clone Your Dog," 21 Dec. 2020 For example, the planet lacks sufficient nitrogen for plant growth. David W. Brown, WSJ, "For NASA, It Should Be Mars or Bust," 18 Dec. 2020 The modern equivalent uses a piston containing an inert gas such as nitrogen that stores energy when compressed, unleashing it when the trigger is pulled to provide velocities up as high as 1,500 fps. Joseph Albanese, Field & Stream, "The 10 Best Air Rifles for Hunting Squirrels," 4 Dec. 2020 The South Coast air district estimates that emissions of nitrogen oxides were reduced by about 20% during stay-at-home orders that drastically reduced driving early in the pandemic, and have since mostly rebounded. Tony Barboza Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. began 2020 with a clean-air streak but ended with its worst smog in decades," 6 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nitrogen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nitrogen

1791, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nitrogen

French nitrogène, from nitre niter + -gène -gen

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Time Traveler for nitrogen

Time Traveler

The first known use of nitrogen was in 1791

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Statistics for nitrogen

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nitrogen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce nitrogen (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nitrogen

: a chemical that has no color or smell and that makes up a large part of the atmosphere


ni·​tro·​gen | \ ˈnī-trə-jən How to pronounce nitrogen (audio) \

Kids Definition of nitrogen

: a colorless odorless gaseous chemical element that makes up 78 percent of the atmosphere and forms a part of all living tissues


ni·​tro·​gen | \ ˈnī-trə-jən How to pronounce nitrogen (audio) \

Medical Definition of nitrogen

: a common nonmetallic element that in the free form is normally a colorless odorless tasteless insoluble inert diatomic gas comprising 78 percent of the atmosphere by volume and that in the combined form is a constituent of biologically important compounds (as proteins, nucleic acids, and alkaloids) and hence of all living cells as well as of industrially important substances (as cyanides, fertilizers, dyes, and antibiotics) symbol N — see Chemical Elements Table

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More from Merriam-Webster on nitrogen

Nglish: Translation of nitrogen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nitrogen for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about nitrogen

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