One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A salt or ester of nitrous acid, containing the anion NO₂⁻ or the group —NO₂.
- ‘Bombs, missiles, shells and bullets flood the environment with lead, nitrates, nitrites, hydrocarbons, phosphorous, radioactive debris, corrosive and toxic heavy metals.’
- ‘Some analogous alkyl nitrites, such as amyl nitrite, are known sensitizers in humans.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
Early 19th century: from niter + -ite.
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