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 Prairie strips help reduce nitrous oxide emissions by soaking up nitrogen fertilizer that runs off of adjacent cropland. Lisa Schulte Moore, The Conversation, "Climate-friendly farming strategies can improve the land and generate income for farmers," 28 Apr. 2021 Those efforts, prosecutors said, allowed the company's affected trucks and SUVs to emit more of the poisonous nitrogen oxides than they were supposed to when owners were driving them on the roads and to meet fuel-efficiency targets. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Diesel emissions cheating case involving Stellantis gets bigger as more managers charged," 20 Apr. 2021 Use a high-quality, all-nitrogen lawn fertilizer every eight to 10 weeks starting now and running into early October to keep them growing actively. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, "When will we know if palm trees survived the February freeze in Texas?," 9 Apr. 2021 After initial fertilization, drop to a lower nitrogen fertilizer (the first number on the label is lower) or even use foliar fertilizer or fish and seaweed fertilizer. oregonlive, "Learn to grow colorful, dazzling dahlias in Oregon," 5 Apr. 2021 New England lawns need fertilizing only in the fall, so don’t spread high nitrogen fertilizer in the spring for quick greening because much of it can run off with the rains and pollute waterways., "Ask the Gardener: Why you should clean up less and later," 28 Mar. 2021 It would be used to trigger a chemical reaction that converts nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides into ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate. Andrea Willige, Forbes, "Particle Accelerators That Clean Power Plants – And A Lot More," 18 Mar. 2021 Indigo has a partnership with brewer Anheuser-Busch Inbev NV, which plans this year to buy 2.6 million bushels of rice grown with less water and nitrogen fertilizer than conventional rice. Karl Plume And Rod Nickel, The Christian Science Monitor, "As food industry makes green shift, some farmers see an opening," 3 Dec. 2020 Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer in early spring, again in early summer and in early fall. Neil Sperry,, "Neil Sperry: English ivy growing on trees is usually nothing to worry about," 26 Nov. 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

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nitrogen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 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

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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