ab·​sinthe | \ ˈab-(ˌ)sin(t)th How to pronounce absinthe (audio) \
variants: or less commonly absinth

Definition of absinthe

2 [ borrowed from French absinthe, going back to Middle French, "wormwood," borrowed from Latin absinthium ] : a green or sometimes colorless distilled liquor with high alcoholic content that is flavored with wormwood, anise, and other aromatic herbs (such as fennel) also : a similar liquor that is made without wormwood

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Did You Know?

In 1797, Swiss Henri-Louis Pernod was the first to commercially produce an alcoholic drink from the bitter herb Artemisia absinthium, known commonly as wormwood. By the mid-to-late 1800s this bright green distillation, by then known in both French and English as "absinthe," had become wildly popular, especially among artists and writers, but it also had a reputation for making people a little wild. In fact, it was linked to several nasty disorders, including convulsions and foaming at the mouth. The accused culprit? A toxin in wormwood - perhaps the very chemical that gives the plant its tapeworm-exterminating properties (and thus its name). Because of these reported side effects of wormwood, true absinthe was banned in many countries (including the U.S.) in the early 1900s, but that didn't remove the taste for the drink. Wormwood’s name was later cleared (the real culprit turned out to be the drink’s high alcohol content) and the absinthe ban was lifted in the U.S. in 2007.

Examples of absinthe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

An absinthe fountain sits prominently between guests and barkeeps and bottles crowd narrow shelves on the bar wall. Stephanie Burt, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Bars in Charleston," 1 May 2018 Tickets include: an oyster bar, open bar, hors d’oeuvres, a presentation of traditional absinthe preparation. Ann Maloney, nola.com, "Father’s Day, summer dining deals: Food events through June 19," 11 June 2019 Related Reading The drinks company traces its roots back to 1805 when Henri-Louis Pernod founded an absinthe distillery in a French-Swiss border village. Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ, "Elliott Takes Big Stake in Pernod, Maker of Absolut, Chivas Regal," 12 Dec. 2018 Wash it all down with a truly unique cocktail like A Curtsy and a Bow ($28), made tableside with Basil Hayden’s 8-year bourbon, orgeat, absinthe and tonka fog. Rianne Coale, RedEye Chicago, "Chicago staycation guide: 5 summer getaways to go on without leaving the city," 27 July 2017 Martinis and cocktails that involve absinthe, vodka and coffee are a specialty: 129 Chambers Street, 917-512-3432, primostribeca.com. Florence Fabricant, New York Times, "Matthew Kenney’s Latest, Nodding to Japan, Opens in the East Village," 1 May 2018 Try the French 75 cocktail with Prairie gin, lemon and sparkling wine ($14) or the Sazerac with Rittenhouse rye, absinthe, demerara and Peychaud’s ($14). Audrey Gorden, RedEye Chicago, "Party like a Parisian on Bastille Day with French food, cinema and activities," 11 July 2017 The bar also shook a respectable, fiery Sazerac with rye whiskey and absinthe. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "Review: McAdoo’s Seafood rides a strong wave in New Braunfels," 10 May 2018 The Irish Cocktail 2 ounces Sexton Irish whiskey 1 barspoon absinthe or Pernod 1/4 ounce Dry Curaçao 1 barspoon Luxardo 1 dash Angostura bitters Lemon twist and olive garnish Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Kevin Hopper, idahostatesman, "The Irish Cocktail is a more complex way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day | Idaho Statesman," 6 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'absinthe.' 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 absinthe

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for absinthe

Middle English absinthe, borrowed from Latin absinthium, apsinthium "wormwood, infusion of wormwood," borrowed from Latin absinthium, apsinthium, borrowed from Greek apsínthion, of pre-Greek substratal origin

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The first known use of absinthe was in 1612

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English Language Learners Definition of absinthe

: a green alcoholic drink that has a very strong and bitter flavor


variants: also absinth \ ˈab-​(ˌ)sin(t)th How to pronounce absinth (audio) \

Medical Definition of absinthe

1 : wormwood
2 : a green liqueur flavored with wormwood or a substitute, anise, and other aromatics

More from Merriam-Webster on absinthe

Nglish: Translation of absinthe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about absinthe

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