Etymology
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nitrogen (n.)

colorless, odorless gaseous element, 1794, from French nitrogène, coined 1790 by French chemist Jean Antoine Chaptal (1756-1832), from 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. An earlier name for it was mephitic air (1772), and Lavoisier called it azote (see azo-). It forms about 78% of the weight of the Earth's atmosphere. Related: Nitrogenic; nitrogenous.

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azotemia (n.)
"presence of excess nitrogen in the blood," 1894, also azotaemia, from azote "nitrogen" (see azo-) + -emia "blood." Related: Azotemic.
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azo- 
before vowels az-, word-forming element denoting the presence of nitrogen, used from late 19c. as combining form of azote (1791), the old term for "nitrogen" (from Greek a- "not, without" (see a- (3)) + zoion "a living being," from PIE root *gwei- "to live"), which was coined in French by Lavoisier & de Morveau because living things cannot survive in the pure gas.
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diazepam (n.)

"Valium," 1961, from (benzo)diazep(ine) + -am, apparently an arbitrary suffix. The element diazo- denotes two nitrogen atoms combined with one hydrocarbon radical.

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nitro- 

before vowels nitr-, word-forming element used scientifically and indicating nitrogen, nitrate, or nitric acid; from Greek nitron (see nitre).

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nitrification (n.)

"process by which nitrogen in soil is oxidized to nitric acid," 1789, from French nitrification (1778), from nitrifier (1777), from nitre (see nitre). English nitrify "convert into nitre" is attested by 1800.

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cyanide (n.)

a salt of hydrocyanic acid, 1826, from cyan-, used in science as a word-forming element for the carbon-nitrogen compound radical, + chemical ending -ide, on analogy of chloride. The best-known is potassium cyanide, bitter-tasting and extremely poisonous but formerly used in photography, electro-metallurgy, etc.

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cyan- 

word-forming element used in science for the carbon-nitrogen compound radical, from a Latinized form of Greek kyanos "dark blue" (see cyan).

The immediate source of its use in science is French cyanogène, the name given to the compound radical by Gay-Lussac. He called it that because it first had been obtained by heating the dye pigment powder known as Prussian blue (see Prussian).

The cyanogen radical was one of the first examples of a 'compound radical' and was of importance in the development of structural chemistry during the next forty years. [Flood, "Origins of Chemical Names"]  
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nitrous (adj.)

c. 1600, "of nitre, pertaining to nitre," from Latin nitrosus, from nitrum (see nitre). The more precise use in chemistry (designating a compound in which the nitrogen has a lower valence than the corresponding nitric compound) is from 1780s. Middle English had nitrose "nitrous in quality; bitter, sour" (early 15c.). Nitrous oxide "laughing gas" is attested from 1800.

When inhaled it produces unconsciousness and insensibility to pain; hence it is used as an anesthetic during short surgical operations. When it is breathed diluted with air an exhilarating or intoxicating effect is produced under the influence of which the inhaler is irresistibly impelled to do all kinds of silly and extravagant acts; hence the old name of laughing-gas. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
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N 

fourteenth letter of the English alphabet; in chemistry, the symbol for nitrogen.

In late Middle English a and an commonly were joined to the following noun, if that word began with a vowel, which caused confusion over how such words ought to be divided when written separately. In nickname, newt, and British dialectal naunt, the -n- belongs to a preceding indefinite article an or possessive pronoun mine.

Other examples of this from Middle English manuscripts include a neilond ("an island," early 13c.), a narawe ("an arrow," c. 1400), a nox ("an ox," c. 1400), a noke ("an oak," early 15c.), a nappyle ("an apple," early 15c.), a negge ("an egg," 15c.), a nynche ("an inch," c. 1400), a nostryche ("an ostrich," c. 1500). My naunt for mine aunt is recorded from 13c.-17c. None other could be no noder (mid-15c.). My nown (for mine own) was frequent 15c.-18c. In 16c., an idiot sometimes became a nidiot (1530s), which, with still-common casual pronunciation, became nidget (1570s), now, alas, no longer whinnying with us.

It is "of constant recurrence" in the 15c. vocabularies, according to Thomas Wright, their modern editor. One has, among many others, Hoc alphabetum ... a nabse, from misdivision of an ABC (and pronouncing it as a word), and Hic culus ... a ners. Also compare nonce, pigsney. Even in 19c. provincial English and U.S., noration (from an oration) was "a speech; a rumor."

The process also worked in surnames, from oblique cases of Old English at "by, near," as in Nock/Nokes/Noaks from atten Oke "by the oak;" Nye from atten ye "near the lowland;" and see Nashville. (Elision of the vowel of the definite article also took place and was standard in Chancery English of the 15c.: þarchebisshop for "the archbishop," thorient for "the orient.")

But it is more common for an English word to lose an -n- to a preceding a: apron, auger, adder, umpire, humble pie, etc. By a related error in Elizabethan English, natomy or atomy was common for anatomy, noyance (annoyance) and noying (adj.) turn up 14c.-17c., and Marlowe (1590) has Natolian for Anatolian.  The tendency is not limited to English: compare Luxor, jade (n.1), lute, omelet, and Modern Greek mera for hēmera, the first syllable being confused with the article.

The mathematical use of n for "an indefinite number" is attested by 1717 in phrases such as to the nth power (see nth). In Middle English n. was written in form documents to indicate an unspecified name of a person to be supplied by the speaker or reader.

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