Definition of absinthe
1 : wormwood 1
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: 1612
ABSINTHE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of absinthe for English Language Learners
: a green alcoholic drink that has a very strong and bitter flavor
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