One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: the compound HN=C=NH, a tautomeric form of cyanamide (now rare). In later use: any of a class of compounds having the general formula RN=C=NR′, characterized by a carbon atom doubly bonded to two nitrogen atoms each bearing an organic group.
Late 19th century; earliest use found in Henry Watts (1815–1884), chemist. From carbo- + di- + imide, after German Carbodiimid.
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