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 The Morning Glory Fizz—scotch whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, an egg white, soda, plus a couple dashes of absinthe—is meant, without the slightest hint of irony, to welcome the day. Jason O'bryan, Robb Report, "How to Make a Morning Glory Fizz, the Cocktail That Makes Scotch and Absinthe Feel Right for Daylight," 1 Apr. 2021 Swirl the absinthe in the glass, dump it out, and a whiff of licorice remains. Alex Beggs, Bon Appétit, "This Cocktail Is Called the Rattlesnake, and That’s Reason Enough to Make It," 17 Apr. 2020 The mixture is vigorously stirred with ice and strained into a second glass that’s liberally coated with Herbsaint, an anise-flavored liqueur that replaced absinthe when it was banned in 1912. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "History marches on in New Orleans with these new attractions," 25 Feb. 2020 Christmapolitan: Vodka, elderflower, dry vermouth, spiced cranberry sauce, lime, rosemary and an absinthe mist. Phillip Valys, sun-sentinel.com, "Miracle, a Christmas pop-up bar, bringing cocktails, ugly sweaters to downtown Fort Lauderdale," 14 Oct. 2019 Bartenders at Cayo Coco, for example, make variations on the classic Zombie from both the 1930s (which included absinthe and baking spices) and the 1950s (more fruit, less spice). Eric Velasco, al, "Downtown restaurant and rum bar transports guests to Old Havana," 5 Dec. 2019 Returning to the menu: The Run Run Rudolph, crafted with gin, Prosecco, mulled wine puree, lemon and cane syrup; and the Christmapolitan, crafted with vodka, elderflower, dry vermouth, spiced cranberry sauce, rosemary, lime and an absinthe mist. al, "Miracle, the Christmas cocktail popup bar, is headed back to Birmingham," 18 Nov. 2019 Learning out about absinthe and beret wearing taxi dancers from Lost Generation artist wanderers still able to climb the hill of Montmarte up to Le Chat Noir. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Boomers not OK with OK, Boomer (11/17/19)," 17 Nov. 2019 In the basement speakeasy, Prohibition, find a throwback haunt for live music, creative cocktails, and traditional pours of absinthe. Serena Renner, National Geographic, "A local’s guide to Vancouver," 22 Oct. 2019

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

Time Traveler for absinthe

Time Traveler

The first known use of absinthe was in 1612

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about absinthe

Statistics for absinthe

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Absinthe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absinthe. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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 absinthe (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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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