Any of a group of amine compounds of unpleasant taste and odor formed in putrefying animal and vegetable matter and formerly thought to cause food poisoning.
- ‘A serious outbreak of ptomaine poisoning, said to be due to eating ice cream, had occurred.’
- ‘He died of ptomaine poisoning contracted from tainted Japanese crabmeat.’
- ‘Being in town, I warily went along to the Colorado Ballet's production of The Nutcracker, a ballet I normally prefer only slightly to ptomaine poisoning.’
- ‘The Mayor and Mayoress of Doncaster had been suffering from ptomaine poisoning, caused by eating pigeon pie provided for their guests at an entertainment at the Mansion House.’
- ‘According to the old Eclectic doctors it proved to be universally successful in the treatment of every case of ptomaine poisoning.’
Late 19th century: from French ptomaïne, from Italian ptomaina, formed irregularly from Greek ptōma corpse.