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ergot

[ur-guh t, -got]
noun
  1. Plant Pathology.
    1. a disease of rye and other cereal grasses, caused by a fungus of the genus Claviceps, especially C. purpurea, which replaces the affected grain with a long, hard, blackish sclerotial body.
    2. the sclerotial body itself.
  2. Pharmacology. the dried sclerotium of C. purpurea, developed on rye plants: used in the production of ergotamine and ergotoxine.
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Origin of ergot

1675–85; < French: literally, a rooster's spur; Old French argos, argoz, argot spur(s)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ergot

ergot

noun
  1. a disease of cereals and other grasses caused by ascomycete fungi of the genus Claviceps, esp C. purpurea, in which the seeds or grain of the plants are replaced by the spore-containing bodies (sclerotia) of the fungus
  2. any fungus causing this disease
  3. the dried sclerotia of C. purpurea, used as the source of certain alkaloids used to treat haemorrhage, facilitate uterine contraction in childbirth, etc
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Word Origin

C17: from French: spur (of a cock), of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ergot

n.

fungal disease of rye and other grasses, 1680s, from French ergot, from Old French argot "cock's spur" (12c.), of unknown origin. The blight so called from the shape the fungus forms on the diseased grain. Ergotism "disease caused by eating ergot-infected breadstuffs," first recorded 1853. An alkaloid from the fungus, ergotamine (1921) is used to treat migraines.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ergot in Medicine

ergot

(ûrgət, -gŏt′)
n.
  1. A fungus that infects various cereal plants and forms compact black masses of branching filaments that replace many of the grains of the host plant.
  2. The dried sclerotia of ergot, usually obtained from rye seed and used as a source of several medicinally important alkaloids and as the basic source of lysergic acid.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

ergot in Science

ergot

[ûrgət]
  1. A fungus (Claviceps purpurea) that infects rye as well as other cereal grasses fed to livestock. Ergot forms sclerotia (masses of hyphae) that replace individual seeds in the spike of the infected plant and contain a complex mixture of alkaloids, several of which are medicinally important. Ergot is the basic source of ergotamine and lysergic acid. Ingestion of infected rye produces convulsions, hallucinations, and severe vasoconstriction that can lead to gangrene. Ergot poisoning may have been responsible for outbreaks of mass hysteria and reports of demonic visions in medieval Europe.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.