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

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 St-Rémy Signature Banana Street Cocktail Immerse yourself in the inviting warmth of this cocktail, blending the unique flavors of St-Rémy Signature with roasted banana and clove, complemented by the depth of rye whiskey and an intriguing hint of absinthe. Stephanie Gravalese, Forbes, 26 Mar. 2024 The key ingredients in absinthe are anise, fennel, and—most importantly—wormwood. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 8 Mar. 2024 Enjoy art prints for sale, absinthe fountains, unique absinthe cocktails and more. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 4 Feb. 2024 Aside from a few vibrant sculptures, most of the color comes from the bottles behind the bar, Curaçao and absinthe glistening like translucent sapphires and emeralds. The Indianapolis Star, 19 Jan. 2024 This icy drink features fennel liqueur, aquavit, dry vermouth, vermouth blanco and absinthe. Ronnie Koenig, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 Orange Flower Water: Orange flower water is usually considered a powerful ingredient but is dwarfed by absinthe and creme de menthe. Jason O'Bryan, Robb Report, 3 Feb. 2024 Brisket pierogi, a pierogi Benedict and a flaming absinthe cocktail inspired by a dragon in Krakow, Poland, may not be what your babcia made. Chicago Tribune Staff, Chicago Tribune, 29 Jan. 2024 Until a few years ago it was thought that old-style absinthe might have contained up to 260 mg of thujone per litre, a substantial dose. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 20 Mar. 2010

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'absinthe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of absinthe was in 1612


Dictionary Entries Near absinthe

Cite this Entry

“Absinthe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absinthe. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


variants also absinth
: a green liqueur flavored with wormwood or a substitute, anise, and other aromatics

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