Definition of nitrogen mustard in English:

nitrogen mustard


  • Any of a group of organic compounds containing the group —N(CH₂CH₂Cl)₂. They are powerful cytotoxic alkylating agents and some are used in chemotherapy to treat cancer.

    • ‘Also during this time, the bone marrow suppressive effect of nitrogen mustard was discovered.’
    • ‘There was another name to become famous in cancer biology who worked on nitrogen mustard and on mustard gas, but whose name did not appear as a co-author on that famous paper.’
    • ‘Radiation from nuclear bombs and gaseous particles from nitrogen mustard and acridine orange have been used destructively in war.’
    • ‘Paradoxically, some nitrosocompounds were found to have antitumour activity and, like the nitrogen mustards described above, probably act by damaging the DNA in tumours in such a way that the cells cannot repair the damage and die.’
    • ‘Chemicals such as mitomycin C and the nitrogen mustards generate inter-strand cross-links, while cisplatin (cis-diamine dichloroplatin) is associated with intra-strand cross-links.’


1940s: mustard denoting a substance chemically similar to mustard gas.