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Main Entry: ox·y·gen
Etymology: from French oxygène "oxygen," literally, "acid producer," from oxy- "sharp, acid" (from Greek oxys "sharp, sour") and -gène "one that produces or generates" (from Greek -gens "born, generated") : a reactive element that is found in water, rocks, and free as a colorless tasteless odorless gas which forms about 21 percent of the atmosphere, that is capable of combining with almost all elements, and that is necessary for life -- see ELEMENT table Word History Oxygen was discovered by two scientists working independently, Joseph Priestley of England and Carl Scheele of Sweden. However, it was the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier who later gave the gas its name. He said the most common characteristic of this element was its ability to combine with other substances to form acids. For this reason Lavoisier named it oxygène, literally meaning "acid producer." The origin of his word was two Greek elements, oxys, meaning "sharp, sour," and -gens, meaning "born, generated."