Definition of ergot in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A fungal disease of rye and other cereals in which black elongated fruiting bodies grow in the ears of the cereal. Eating contaminated food can result in ergotism.

    • ‘The Department of Agriculture has discovered sorghum ergot in a small area of forage sorghum growing in southern Western Australia.’
    • ‘One of the first recorded attacks was in the seventh century BC when the Assyrians used a fungal disease called ergot to poison water supplies.’
    • ‘Seriously though, Rufus knew that the problems commonly blamed on rye occur when the grain is moldy and has ergot, so he was careful never to buy moldy rye.’
    • ‘Rye suffers from a peculiar disease called ergot, caused by the fungus Claviceps purpurea.’
    • ‘Our oldest recorded plant disease, ergot was first described on an Assyrian cuneiform tablet as a ‘noxious pustule in the ear of grain.’’
    1. 1.1The fruiting bodies of the ergot fungus, used as a source of certain medicinal alkaloids, especially for inducing uterine contractions or controlling post-partum bleeding.
      • ‘Atropine, digitalis, ergot alkaloids, and diuretics may interact with phenylephrine.’
      • ‘The endophyte produces ergot alkaloids that have been linked to decreased animal performance as well as toxicity problems.’
      • ‘Such molds include ergot from claviceps species, aflatoxins from Aspergillus, and trichothecenes from Fusarium and Stachybotrys.’
      • ‘The review included 13 controlled trials of ergot derivatives.’
      • ‘Because of their ability to cause peripheral vasoconstriction, ergot alkaloids should not be used chronically.’
      • ‘Gout can be triggered by minor injuries, surgery, excess alcohol, or various drugs, (sulfa, ergot, and Vitamin B12).’
      • ‘Bromocriptin from the wheat rust ergot, chemically mimics the effect of dopamine and can be added.’
      • ‘Mycotoxins commonly found in grains or feeds used in Nebraska are aflatoxins, ergot alkaloids, fumonisins, vomitoxin and zearalenone.’
      • ‘He was conducting research on possible medical applications of various lysergic acid compounds derived from ergot, a fungus that develops on rye grass.’
  • 2A small horny protuberance on the back of each of a horse's fetlocks.

    • ‘I have chosen to write about the evolution of the horse's chestnut as well as the ergot.’
    • ‘Normally the ergot is very close to the skin, but sometimes they grow out to an inch or more and can be unsightly when this hair is clipped for show purposes.’


Late 17th century: from French, from Old French argot cock's spur (because of the appearance produced by the disease).