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[nahy-truh-juh n] /ˈnaɪ trə dʒən/
noun, Chemistry
a colorless, odorless, gaseous element that constitutes about four-fifths of the volume of the atmosphere and is present in combined form in animal and vegetable tissues, especially in proteins: used chiefly in the manufacture of ammonia, nitric acid, cyanide, explosives, fertilizer, dyes, as a cooling agent, etc. Symbol: N; atomic weight: 14.0067; atomic number: 7; density: 1.2506 g/l at 0°C and 760 mm pressure.
Origin of nitrogen
1785-95; < French nitrogène. See nitro-, -gen Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for nitrogen
  • Excess nitrogen feeds an explosion of algae, which eventually dies and sinks.
  • Ammonium nitrate also happens to be an excellent source of nitrogen for plants.
  • Roofs collect a lot of nitrogen from contaminants in the air.
  • Without nitrogen to fertilize crops, the world couldn't feed itself.
  • Stouts, though, use a mixture of that gas and four times its volume of nitrogen.
  • Manure from rabbits, sheep, goats and chickens contains abundant nitrogen.
  • They contain a small amount of fast-release nitrogen for a quick green-up, and a larger portion of slow-release nitrogen.
  • nitrogen is one of life's crucial elements, used by all organisms to make proteins.
  • Urine urea nitrogen is a measure of protein breakdown in the body.
  • As far as the health of marine ecosystems go, perhaps no single pollutant does more harm than nitrogen.
British Dictionary definitions for nitrogen


  1. a colourless odourless relatively unreactive gaseous element that forms 78 per cent (by volume) of the air, occurs in many compounds, and is an essential constituent of proteins and nucleic acids: used in the manufacture of ammonia and other chemicals and as a refrigerant. Symbol: N; atomic no: 7; atomic wt: 14.00674; valency: 3 or 5; density: 1/2506 kg/m³; melting pt: –210.00°C; boiling pt: –195.8°C
  2. (as modifier): nitrogen cycle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nitrogen

1794, from French nitrogène, coined 1790 by French chemist Jean Antoine Chaptal (1756-1832), from comb. form of Greek nitron "sodium carbonate" (see nitro-) + French gène "producing," from Greek -gen "giving birth to" (see -gen). The gas was identified in part by analysis of nitre. Earlier name (1772) was mephitic air, and Lavoisier called it azote (see azo-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nitrogen in Medicine

nitrogen ni·tro·gen (nī'trə-jən)
Symbol N
A nonmetallic element that constitutes nearly four fifths of the air by volume, occurring as a colorless, odorless, almost inert diatomic gas, N2, in various minerals and in all proteins. Atomic number 7; atomic weight 14.0067; melting point -210.00°C; boiling point -195.8°C; valence 3, 5.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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nitrogen in Science
Symbol N
A nonmetallic element that makes up about 78 percent of the atmosphere by volume, occurring as a colorless, odorless gas. It is a component of all proteins, making it essential for life, and it is also found in various minerals. Nitrogen is used to make ammonia, nitric acid, TNT, and fertilizers. Atomic number 7; atomic weight 14.0067; melting point -209.86°C; boiling point -195.8°C; valence 3, 5. See Periodic Table. See Note at oxygen.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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nitrogen in Culture

nitrogen definition

A chemical element that makes up about four-fifths of the atmosphere of the Earth. Its symbol is N.

Note: Like carbon, nitrogen is a necessary element in the tissues of living things.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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