from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A basic nitrogenous organic compound produced by bacterial putrefaction of protein.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various amines formed by putrefactive bacteria.
  • n. food poisoning

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of a class of animal bases or alkaloids formed in the putrefaction of various kinds of albuminous matter, and closely related to the vegetable alkaloids; a cadaveric poison. The ptomaines, as a class, have their origin in dead matter, by which they are to be distinguished from the leucomaines.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A generic name of alkaloid bodies formed from animal or vegetable tissues during putrefaction, and the similar bodies produced by pathogenic bacteria. Some of them are poisonous.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of various amines (such as putrescine or cadaverine) formed by the action of putrefactive bacteria
  • n. a term for food poisoning that is no longer in scientific use; food poisoning was once thought to be caused by ingesting ptomaines


Italian ptomaina, from Greek ptōma, corpse, from piptein, ptō-, to fall; see pet- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French ptomaïne, from French ptomaina, from Ancient Greek πτῶμα (ptōma, "corpse"). (Wiktionary)



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