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 Between 2012 and 2023, emissions of nitrogen oxides in the region will have been slashed nearly 50%, Gilchrist wrote. Tony Briscoestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2022 Because no combustion occurs, the heating process generates far lower emissions than a fossil fuel-burning boiler produces and no nitrogen oxides, which worsen air quality. Sofia Lotto Persio, Forbes, 30 Apr. 2022 The Swiss government has released part of its nitrogen fertilizer reserves. The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Apr. 2022 Some European companies have cut output of nitrogen fertilizer due to pricey natural gas, an ingredient. Elizabeth Elkin,, 31 Mar. 2022 As the price of crops like wheat and corn rise, farmers try to capitalize and apply more nitrogen fertilizer. NBC News, 12 Mar. 2022 Aphids tap into trees by sinking their mouthparts just below the surface of the bark, seeking amino acids and nitrogen-rich compounds. Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2022 The Spruce plant also emits thousands of tons of harmful compounds, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, according to the EPA. Diego Mendoza-moyers, San Antonio Express-News, 7 Apr. 2022 The project’s fate could hinge on whether the utility can persuade state officials that hydrogen would not only help tackle the climate crisis, but also limit nitrogen oxides and other air pollutants in low-income communities of color. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of nitrogen was in 1791

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nitrogen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for nitrogen


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

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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