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

The small, llamalike creatures, introduced to Chimborazo decades ago from farther south in the Andes, defecate on communal dung heaps, supplying a boon of nitrogen for plants. Tim Appenzeller, Science | AAAS, "Global warming has made iconic Andean peak unrecognizable," 11 Sep. 2019 This can be resolved with a fertilizer application of nitrogen., "Ask an expert: Make sure you have enough room to work around grape vines," 24 Aug. 2019 On land, an excess of nitrogen is good for the crops that can metabolize it easily, but the majority of species can’t handle it. Matt Simon, WIRED, "New IPCC Report Shows How Our Abuse of Land Drives Climate Change," 8 Aug. 2019 Summer crops use a lot of nitrogen in pushing out all that fruit, so the beds will be depleted. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Bay Area gardening: Saying goodbye to summer," 8 Aug. 2019 Clippings recycle as much as 50 percent of the nitrogen that grass needs back into the soil. Jessie Kissinger, Popular Mechanics, "Give Your Yard Back to Nature," 1 July 2019 The freezing properties of liquid nitrogen will be demonstrated in a smash show and smash zone. Susan Dunne,, "Ooey, gooey, slimy, grimy: It’s a 2-day Mess Fest for kids at CT Science Center," 19 June 2019 Moons can have atmospheres, too, but Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is the only one known to have a thick atmosphere, which is made mostly of nitrogen. National Geographic, "The solar system, explained," 27 Mar. 2019 The salmon also provided phosphorous, nitrogen and other nutrients that nourish the great forests of the Northwest. Jim Robbins, New York Times, "How Long Before These Salmon Are Gone? ‘Maybe 20 Years’," 16 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for nitrogen

Last Updated

8 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for nitrogen

The first known use of nitrogen was in 1791

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More Definitions for nitrogen



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

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Nglish: Translation of nitrogen for Spanish Speakers

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

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