Definition of nitrite in US English:



  • A salt or ester of nitrous acid, containing the anion NO₂⁻ or the group —NO₂.

    • ‘Some analogous alkyl nitrites, such as amyl nitrite, are known sensitizers in humans.’
    • ‘Nitric oxide is generated by the thermal decomposition of nitrites and nitrates.’
    • ‘These compounds are literally rained onto the earth in the form of nitric and nitrous acids that replenish the earth's nitrogen content by forming nitrates and nitrites in the soil.’
    • ‘In the 1970s the Food and Drug Administration responded to public concerns by dramatically cutting back on the quantity of nitrates and nitrites that could be added to foods.’
    • ‘Bombs, missiles, shells and bullets flood the environment with lead, nitrates, nitrites, hydrocarbons, phosphorous, radioactive debris, corrosive and toxic heavy metals.’


Early 19th century: from niter + -ite.