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[noun nahy-treyt, -trit; verb nahy-treyt]
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  1. Chemistry. a salt or ester of nitric acid, or any compound containing the univalent group –ONO2 or NO3.
  2. fertilizer consisting of potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate.
  3. cellulose nitrate, a substance used as a film base in the early days of filmmaking.
  4. Informal. nitrate film.
verb (used with object), ni·trat·ed, ni·trat·ing.
  1. to treat with nitric acid or a nitrate.
  2. to convert into a nitrate.

Origin of nitrate

First recorded in 1785–95; nitr- + -ate2
Related formsni·tra·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nitration

Historical Examples

  • Starch yields the hexanitrate (C12) by both methods of nitration.

    Researches on Cellulose

    C. F. Cross

  • The chief stipulation for dynamite glycerine is its behaviour in the nitration test.

  • The pyroligneous acid obtained, is generally clear, after nitration, and of a dark brown colour.

  • Nitration of benzoic acid gives chiefly meta-nitro-benzoic acid.

  • Cacao butter runs hot from the presses as an amber-coloured oil, and after nitration, sets to a pale golden yellow wax-like fat.

    Cocoa and Chocolate

    Arthur W. Knapp

British Dictionary definitions for nitration


  1. any salt or ester of nitric acid, such as sodium nitrate, NaNO 3
  2. a fertilizer consisting of or containing nitrate salts
  1. (tr) to treat with nitric acid or a nitrate
  2. to convert or be converted into a nitrate
  3. to undergo or cause to undergo the chemical process in which a nitro group is introduced into a molecule
Derived Formsnitration, noun
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

Word Origin and History for nitration



1794, from French nitrate (1787) or formed in English from nitre + -ate (3). Related: Nitrates.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nitration in Medicine


(nītrāt′, -trĭt)
  1. The univalent radical NO3.
  2. A compound containing such a radical, such as a salt or ester of nitric acid.
  1. To treat with nitric acid or a nitrate, usually to change an organic compound into a nitrate.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

nitration in Science


  1. A salt or ester of nitric acid, containing the group NO3. Nitrates dissolve extremely easily in water and are an important component of the nitrogen cycle. Compare nitrite.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.