- the hard, reddish-brown or black, grainlike masses (sclerotia) of certain parasitic fungi (esp. genus Claviceps) that replace the kernels of rye or other cereal plants
- the disease in which this occurs; specif., the disease of rye caused by a species (Claviceps purpurea) of this fungus
- the dried sclerotia of the rye fungus from which several alkaloids are extracted that have the ability to contract blood vessels and smooth muscle tissue
- any of these alkaloids
Origin of ergotFrench from Old French argot, a rooster's spur, hence (from the shape) the disease growth in the plant
- Any of several fungi of the genus Claviceps, especially C. purpurea, that infect various cereal plants and form compact black masses of branching filaments that replace the grains of the host plant. Humans and livestock can be poisoned by ingesting ergot-infected grains.
- The plant disease caused by such a fungus.
- The dried sclerotia of ergot, usually obtained from rye seed and used as a source of several medicinally important alkaloids and as the basic source of lysergic acid.
Origin of ergotFrench from Old French argot cock's spur (from its shape) of unknown origin