[ toh-meyn, toh-meyn ]
/ ˈtoʊ meɪn, toʊˈmeɪn /


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

1875–80; < Italian ptomaina < Greek ptôma corpse + Italian -ina -ine2
Related formspto·main·ic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ptomaine

British Dictionary definitions for ptomaine



/ (ˈtəʊmeɪn) /


any of a group of amines, such as cadaverine or putrescine, formed by decaying organic matter

Word Origin for ptomaine

C19: from Italian ptomaina, from Greek ptoma corpse, from piptein to fall
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

Medicine definitions for ptomaine


[ tōmān′, tō-mān ]


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

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for ptomaine


[ tōmān′ ]

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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.