er·​got | \ ˈər-gət How to pronounce ergot (audio) , -ˌgät \

Definition of ergot

1 : the black or dark purple sclerotium of fungi (genus Claviceps) that occurs as a club-shaped body replacing the seed of a grass (such as rye) also : a fungus bearing ergots
2 : a disease of rye and other cereals caused by an ergot fungus
3a : the dried sclerotia of an ergot fungus grown on rye and containing several alkaloids (such as ergonovine and ergotamine)
b : any of such alkaloids used medicinally for their contractile effect on smooth muscle (as of the uterus and or blood vessels)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from ergot

ergotic \ (ˌ)ər-​ˈgä-​tik How to pronounce ergotic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of ergot in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Sometimes, though, Raynaud’s can be the result of a medicine, such as migraine drugs known as ergots, or a number of underlying conditions that target your blood vessels, including carpal tunnel syndrome, atherosclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "7 Reasons You Might Be Feeling Cold All the Time," 16 Oct. 2018 The first such drugs, called ergotamines, were powerful vasoconstrictors derived from the ergot fungus, which grows on rye and other grains and led to mass poisonings in the Middle Ages. Emily Underwood, Science | AAAS, "Will antibodies finally put an end to migraines?," 18 May 2018 The researcher, Albert Hofmann, was synthesizing molecules from ergot—a fungus that commonly infects grains used for bread. Andrea Gawrylewski, Scientific American, "Apollo, the Graphic Novel; Scientists on Acid and Other New Science Books," 1 June 2018 Derived from the ergot fungi, Albert Hoffman accidentally created LSD in a Swiss lab in 1938. Jason Diamond, The New Republic, "Can Psychedelic Drugs Do Good?," 15 May 2018 Sandoz scientists isolated a dozen ergot alkaloids in the hope of finding a few that might prove therapeutic. Ellen Ruppel Shell,, "Take a hit of acid and call me in the morning," 11 May 2018 Ergothioneine, or ergo, is actually an antioxidant amino acid that was initially discovered in 1909 in ergot fungi. Robert Beelman, CNN, "The humble mushroom is the newest superfood," 25 Apr. 2018 Experts now know that those symptoms are common among people with convulsive ergotism, or ergot poisoning, which is caused by a fungus that can grow on wheat, rye, and other similar grains. Sarah Klein,, "The Surprising Medical Origins of Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves, and More Spooky Characters," 2 Oct. 2017 Hofmann had been working with ergot, a rye fungus, hoping to develop a new and improved cardiovascular stimulant. Don Lattin, Slate Magazine, "The War on Drugs Halted Research Into the Potential Benefits of Psychedelics," 3 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ergot.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ergot

1683, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ergot

French, literally, cock's spur

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ergot

Time Traveler for ergot

Time Traveler

The first known use of ergot was in 1683

See more words from the same year

Statistics for ergot

Cite this Entry

“Ergot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ergot


er·​got | \ ˈər-gət How to pronounce ergot (audio) , -ˌgät How to pronounce ergot (audio) \

Medical Definition of ergot

1a : the black or dark purple sclerotium of fungi of the genus Claviceps that occurs as a club-shaped body which replaces the seed of various grasses (as rye)
b : any fungus of the genus Claviceps
2 : a disease of rye and other cereals caused by fungi of the genus Claviceps and characterized by the presence of ergots in the seed heads — compare ergotism
3a : the dried sclerotial bodies of an ergot fungus grown on rye and containing several ergot alkaloids

Other Words from ergot

ergotic \ (ˌ)ər-​ˈgät-​ik How to pronounce ergotic (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on ergot

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ergot Encyclopedia article about ergot

Comments on ergot

What made you want to look up ergot? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!