- nitrous oxide
Chem., Pharm.a colorless, sweet-smelling, sweet-tasting, nonflammable, slightly water-soluble gas, N2O, that sometimes produces a feeling of exhilaration when inhaled: used chiefly as an anesthetic in dentistry and surgery, in the manufacture of chemicals, and as an aerosol. Also called laughing gas.[1790-1800]
* * *or laughing gasA colourless gas with a pleasantly sweetish odour and taste, it has an analgesic effect when inhaled; it is used as an anesthetic (often called just "gas") in dentistry and surgery. This effect is preceded by mild hysteria, sometimes with laughter, hence the name laughing gas. It is also used as a propellant in food aerosols and as a leak detector.
* * *also called Dinitrogen Monoxide , or Laughing Gas,one of several oxides of nitrogen, a colourless gas with pleasant, sweetish odour and taste, which when inhaled produces insensibility to pain preceded by mild hysteria, sometimes laughter. Nitrous oxide was discovered by the English chemist Joseph Priestley in 1772; another English chemist, Humphry Davy, later named it nitrous oxide and showed its physiological effect. The principal use of nitrous oxide is as an anesthetic in surgical operations of short duration; prolonged inhalation causes death. The gas is also used as a propellant in food aerosols. It is prepared by the action of zinc on dilute nitric acid, by the action of hydroxylamine hydrochloride (NH2OH·HCl) on sodium nitrite (NaNO2), and, most commonly, by the decomposition of ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3).
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