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

Definition of nitrogen

: a colorless tasteless odorless element that as a diatomic gas is relatively inert and constitutes 78 percent of the atmosphere and that is a constituent of organic compounds found in all living tissues — see Chemical Elements Table

Examples of nitrogen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Required by recent rulings to propose an alternate means for his own death, Mr. Bucklew offered nitrogen gas. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Supreme Court Rejects Ailing Killer’s Claim That Lethal Injection Will Be Too Painful," 1 Apr. 2019 Elements like phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium could be salvaged from such waste. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What If Animal Feces Could Be Recycled for Metals and Valuable Elements?," 29 Nov. 2018 Many of the chemicals used in fertilizer -- such as phosphorus and nitrogen -- reach the ocean via surface runoffs that occur after a rainstorm or hurricane. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Dead whale shark in Florida washes up on beach; red tide likely killer," 27 July 2018 Since its construction in 1928, the Conowingo has trapped sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus that flow down the Susquehanna from Pennsylvania and New York. Scott Dance,, "Conowingo Dam owner Exelon sues Maryland officials over demands that it help reduce Susquehanna River pollution," 1 June 2018 When buying fertilizer, look for the NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) numbers on the label. Amy Hall,, "Growing season ahead depends on proper feeding," 7 Mar. 2018 O’Neill and his colleagues looked at the resources that humans use a lot of and that are critical for the planet’s health: things like fresh water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "If we gave everyone a decent standard of living, could we sustain it?," 6 Feb. 2018 Some, like corn and tomatoes, are heavy feeders that quickly deplete soil nitrogen and phosphorus. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "How Crop Rotation Can Help You Manage Pests And Improve Soil Quality," 23 Feb. 2017 The Starbucks version includes ice cream made to order using liquid nitrogen. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, "After 25,000 Stores in 78 Countries, Starbucks Turns to Italy," 6 Sep. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of nitrogen

1791, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nitrogen

French nitrogène, from nitre niter + -gène -gen

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nitrogen

Statistics for nitrogen

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nitrogen

The first known use of nitrogen was in 1791

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on nitrogen

Spanish Central: Translation of nitrogen

Nglish: Translation of nitrogen for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on nitrogen

What made you want to look up nitrogen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a tendency to relapse

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!