- any of a class of foul-smelling nitrogenous substances produced by bacteria during putrefaction of animal or plant protein: formerly thought to be toxic.
Origin of ptomaine
Examples from the Web for ptomaine
The consequences I suffered were those of ptomaine poisoning.Across America by Motor-cycle
C. K. Shepherd
"He might get ptomaine poisoning," finally suggested Shy Thomas.The Eternal Boy
Still I think he has made a bad exchange, for Mrs. Ptomaine wont last.The Celebrity at Home
If Mills has ptomaine poisoning, nothing has happened, the doctor said.Boy Scouts in Glacier Park
Walter Prichard Eaton
I don't admit that Ptomaine Street is as useful as a Hoboken alley.Ptomaine Street
- any of a group of amines, such as cadaverine or putrescine, formed by decaying organic matter
Word Origin and History for ptomaine
1880, from Italian ptomaina, coined by Professor Francesco Selmi of Bologna, 1878, from Greek ptoma "corpse," on notion of poison produced in decaying matter. Greek ptoma is literally "a fall, a falling," via the notion of "fallen thing, fallen body;" nominal derivative of piptein "to fall" (see symptom). Incorrectly formed, and Selmi is roundly scolded for it in OED, which says proper Greek would be *ptomatine.
- A basic nitrogenous organic compound produced by bacterial putrefaction of protein.
- Any of various toxic nitrogenous organic compounds produced by bacterial decomposition of protein, especially in dead animal tissue. Ptomaines are bases and are formed by removing the carboxyl group (COOH) from amino acids. They do not cause food poisoning, as was previously thought, but the term ptomaine poisoning is still used to describe food poisoning caused by bacteria.