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 Based on my research this could be due to dormancy, disease (which could die off in spring) or lack of nitrogen. oregonlive, "Ask an expert: While it’s too late to fertilize, be ready for spring lawn care with these suggestions," 20 Dec. 2020 India’s dairy industry keeps its cold chain for bull semen reliable and widely accessible through a steady supply of liquid nitrogen. Manavi Kapur, Quartz, "India’s bull semen industry could be used to fight Covid-19," 10 Dec. 2020 The survivors all spoke of waiting inside the plane as Melton and then McCauley tried to get one or two of the engines to start with the help of a metal canister of nitrogen. Nicholas Rondinone,, "Mechanic onboard WWII-era B-17 that crashed at Bradley International Airport and left 7 dead told investigators the pilot ‘froze’ and turned off a struggling engine midflight," 9 Dec. 2020 In the early 2000s, Corthals was spending much of her time in the bowels of the museum, surrounded by stainless steel vats of liquid nitrogen. Eleanor Cummins, Science, "Bats, museums, and viruses collide in this scientific love story," 4 Dec. 2020 Though oxygen is what our bodies need to stay alive, Earth’s air is mostly made up of nitrogen. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Dolphins May Be Able to Control Their Heart Rate," 1 Dec. 2020 Scientists have documented that up to 70 percent of nitrogen in foliage near spawning streams is of ocean origin. Amy Gulick, The New Republic, "The Majestic Alaskan Rain Forest in Trump’s Crosshairs," 5 Nov. 2020 Near the front room of the clinic, Law stores thousands of semen specimens, stacked in tanks of liquid nitrogen. Ashley Stimpson, Longreads, "Shades of Grey," 31 Oct. 2020 At Smitten Ice Cream locations, the ice cream is churned to order and comes together in a magical flourish of liquid nitrogen. Janelle Bitker,, "9 great ice cream delivery options in the Bay Area," 29 Oct. 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

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nitrogen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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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

Nglish: Translation of nitrogen for Spanish Speakers

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

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