One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of the elements in group 15 of the periodic table, comprising nitrogen, phosphorus, arsenic, antimony, and bismuth.
1960s. From ancient Greek πνίγειν to choke, stifle, to bake, stew (of unknown origin), in allusion to the properties of nitrogen or phosphorus compounds + -o- + -gen, perhaps after halogen. The form pnictogen may arise by analogy with pnictide.
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