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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 De Oliveira, a former Speed Rack cocktail contest winner, is mixing up a concoction dubbed All My Sisters Are Queens, made with Leblon cachaca, vermouth blanc, lime, rosemary, absinthe and Fever Tree tonic. 7-9 p.m. Joseph Hernandez, chicagotribune.com, "Good Food Expo, Fernet pop-up, free hot dogs and more to eat, drink, do this weekend," 22 Mar. 2018 The kitchen at Fish & Game uses these bottles, and never fresh citrus, to tinker with the acidity in their dishes, seasoning it on snails roasted with absinthe and garlicky herb butter, or using it to dress winter greens. Tejal Rao, New York Times, "Exploring the Sweet Subtleties of Vinegar," 5 Feb. 2018 Now there is an Emperor Norton Inn, on Post Street, an Emperor Norton’s Boozeland at Turk and Larkin streets, and a San Francisco distiller is producing a brand of absinthe named after the emperor. Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, "City to celebrate Emperor Norton’s 200th birthday," 3 Feb. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about absinthe

Listen to Our Podcast about absinthe

Statistics for absinthe

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for absinthe

The first known use of absinthe was in 1612

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for absinthe



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

Comments on absinthe

What made you want to look up absinthe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!