pe·yo·te (pā-ōtē) also pe·yo·tl (-ōtl)
1. A spineless, dome-shaped cactus (Lophophora williamsii) native to Mexico and the southwest United States, having buttonlike tubercles that contain the hallucinogen mescaline and are traditionally used in rituals by certain Native American peoples. Also called mescal.
2. Peyote buttons.
[American Spanish, from Nahuatl peyotl, caterpillar cocoon, peyote (because the tufts of woolly hair in the center of its tubercles resemble caterpillar cocoons).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.