Nitrogen was independently discovered, in 1772, by Daniel Rutherford and Priestley. Later, it received from Lavoisier (1775-1776) the name "azoe", and from Chaptal (1790) the one of "nitrogen".

There are innumerous compounds of this element, in the domains of the organic and inorganic chemistry. Among the last ones the following are especially important: binary compounds (nitrogen and hydrogen, oxygen, halogens and metals); nitrogen oxacids and corresponding salts; hydrocyanic acid, cyanides, etc. Among the binary nitrogen and hydrogen compounds, the ammonia, the hydrazine and hydrazoic acid, have special relevance. The most important is ammonia. Excellent solvent when liquefied, it is, on the other hand, an excellent ionizing media.