pey·​o·​te | \ pā-ˈō-tē How to pronounce peyote (audio) \
variants: or less commonly peyotl \ pā-​ˈō-​tᵊl How to pronounce peyote (audio) \

Definition of peyote

1 : a hallucinogenic drug containing mescaline that is derived from the dried discoid tops of a cactus (Lophophora williamsii) and is used especially in the religious ceremonies of some American Indian peoples — see peyote button
2 : a small, low, spineless cactus (Lophophora williamsii) of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico with rounded stems having jointed tubercles with tufts of usually woolly hairs

called also mescal

Illustration of peyote

Illustration of peyote

peyote 2

Examples of peyote in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Because Oregon’s law was neutral and generally applicable, the state’s refusal to exempt religious peyote use from its drug laws was deemed constitutional. Mark Satta, The Conversation, "Amy Coney Barrett sizes up 30-year-old precedent balancing religious freedom with rule of law," 13 Nov. 2020 Once considered a relic of 1960s counterculture, drugs like psilocybin, LSD, peyote, and even more esoteric hallucinogens like ayahuasca and ibogaine are experiencing a renaissance, both in pop culture and in the lab. Meghana Keshavan, Scientific American, "The Psychedelics Evangelist: A German Financier Wants to Turn Magic Mushrooms into Modern Medicine," 9 July 2019 Stone took anything and everything over the course of his life: peyote, quaaludes, smack, Ritalin, Halcion, benzodiazepines. Dwight Garner, New York Times, "The Life of Robert Stone, Who Captured American Energies in Intense, Foreboding Novels," 9 Mar. 2020 That case involved a criminal prohibition on the smoking of peyote, which some Native American individuals consider as part of their religious practice. Julie Moreau, NBC News, "Supreme Court adoption case could have broad nondiscrimination impact," 4 Mar. 2020 Oakland even went a step further by decriminalizing not just mushrooms but a range of other psychoactive plants and compounds including peyote, iboga and ayahuasca. Hailey Branson-potts,, "How a trip on magic mushrooms helped decriminalize psychedelic plants in a California city," 22 June 2019 While Denver's decriminalization effort focused solely on magic mushrooms, Oakland's measure also covers substances like peyote and Ayahuasca. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "Magic mushrooms for better health? Psychedelic drugs are having a moment across US," 24 Aug. 2019 Its right to use peyote was enshrined in law in 1994. The Economist, "A mind-bending history of mescaline," 28 June 2019 In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act classified both substances as a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin, peyote and ecstasy. John Maccormack,, "Hemp rush begins on West Texas farms," 29 June 2019

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

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First Known Use of peyote

1849, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for peyote

Mexican Spanish peyote, from Nahuatl peyotl peyote cactus

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Cite this Entry

“Peyote.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for peyote


pey·​o·​te | \ pā-ˈōt-ē How to pronounce peyote (audio) \
variants: also peyotl \ -​ˈōt-​ᵊl How to pronounce peyote (audio) \

Medical Definition of peyote

1 : a hallucinogenic drug containing mescaline that is derived from peyote buttons and used especially in the religious ceremonies of some American Indian peoples
2 : a small spineless cactus of the genus Lophophora (L. williamsii) of the southwestern United States and Mexico having rounded stems covered with jointed tubercules

called also mescal

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