Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Putrescine Definition:

The odour caused by putrefying organic matter, such as a corpse or even dead fish.

Related Terms: Cadaverine, Forensic Anthropology

According to Stedman's, putrescine is "poisonous ... formed during putrefaction (and) found in urine and feces."

The production of putrescine by the decaying dead human body is the cause of the strong odour. Cadaver dogs, trained to locate bodies under rubble, are trained to react and point to the smell of putrescine.1

Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary:

"Putrescine: A (compound) first found in decaying animal tissues but now known to occur in almost all tissues and in cultures of certain bacteria."


  • Dorland, I., Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 28th Edition (Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co., 1994), page 1391.
  • NOTE 1: Roach, Mary, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavres (New York: Norton & Company, 1994), page 71.
  • Pugh, M., Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 27th Ed. (Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000), page 1488.

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