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OED Word of the Day . . .

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Hi Folks!


I spent yesterday evening hanging with friends celebrating, among other things, St. Patrick's Day and managed to introduce a few more people to the REAL absinthe and when I woke up this morning, and checked my email, I found the latest OED Word of the Day was amazingly relevant! :)


Your word for today is: absinthe, n. and adj.


absinthe, n. and adj.


Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈabsɪnθ/, /ˈabsãt/, U.S. /ˈæbˌsɪnθ/


Forms: 18– absinth now nonstandard, 18– absinthe.


Etymology: < French absinthe highly alcoholic bitter spirit distilled from wine mixed with wormwood (a1804 or earlier: see quot. 1804 at sense A. 1), transferred use of absinthe wormwood (see absinth n.). Compare earlier absinth n. With use as adjective compare French absinthe having the yellow-green colour of absinthe (1925 or earlier).


A. n.


1. A highly alcoholic bitter aniseed-flavoured spirit, usually green in colour, traditionally distilled from wine flavoured with wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and other herbs, and served diluted with sugared water. Also fig.

Absinthe was popular among French artists and intellectuals in the late 19th cent., but was widely banned during the 20th cent. at the instigation of wine producers and temperance campaigners. This ban was usually linked to the alleged toxicity of wormwood (which contains small amounts of the neurotoxin thujone, found also in plants such as sage and tansy). Cf. absinthism n.

1804 Man in Moon viii. 58 Burgundy, followed by caffeè and the most exquisite liqueurs, absinthe, and abricot.

1842 Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. 52 494/2 We took a glass of absinthe to compose our nerves.

1861 Times 25 Mar. 8/6 Algeria‥imports great quantities of Burgundy wines and absinth.

1887 Pall Mall Gaz. 4 July 7/1 Absinthe‥contains several ethereal oils.

1915 W. S. Maugham Of Human Bondage xliv. 215 By virtuous perseverance he had learnt to drink absinthe without distaste.

1929 Havana: Mag. Cuba 26 Jan. 45/1 The ‘Zazerac’ is a wicked one, blended with absinthe and Bourbon whiskey.

1951 C. Gohdes in A. H. Quinn Lit. Amer. People iii. xxxv. 710 One who likewise had sipped the absinthe of disillusionment.

1970 ‘E. Queen’ Last Woman i. 15 That retractable bar‥[is] stocked with everything from absinthe to zubrovka.

1997 Icon Thoughtstyle Mag. Apr. 42/2 Modern absinthe has its origins in Couvet, a small village in western Switzerland.

2003 P. Martin Mammoth Bk. Cocktails iv. 381 Absinthe, 2oz. Absinthe (Pernod or Ricard, absinthe is not in production), ½oz. Anisette, ¼oz. Orgeat, 2 dashes Angostura Bitters.

2. The yellow-green colour of this spirit.

1872 Young Englishwoman Dec. 644/1 Absinthe, pale green.

1938 J. Cary Castle Corner 33 A sunray was turning the rollers from hawthorn to absinthe.

1952 Morning Herald(Uniontown, Pa.) 13 Apr. (advt.)13/1 The Continental French Purse‥in Gaboa Cowhide agleam with tiny jewels‥Wedgewood Blue, Mist Grey, Absinth, Red or Navy.

2004 Observer (Nexis) 16 May 11 A small combination of colours, distinctively her own—absinthe, crimson, arsenical green, royal blue and blood orange.

B. adj.

Of the yellow-green colour of absinthe. rare.

1963 Harper's Bazaar May 41 An absinthe suit with a deep draped armhole.


C1. General attrib. and objective, as absinthe drinker, absinthe glass, absinthe spoon, etc.

1854 Househ. Words 23 Dec. 441/2 Bank notes, Napoleons, and five franc pieces are strewn on the table amidst absinthe glasses, dominoes, decanters, and cigar ends.

1863 Mountain Democrat(Placerville, Calif.) 1 Aug. 1/5 The absinthe drinker returns from his Journey into the Sahara laden only with imbecility.

1889 Bird o' Freedom 7 Aug. 3 An absinthe tumbler which caught him a nasty crack across the dial.

1905 Westm. Gaz. 4 May 12/1 Some statistics‥of the growth of the absinthe habit in France seem to justify the alarmists who speak of the beverage as ‘the green peril’.

1921 T. Maynard Divine Adventure i. iv. 48 The second debater gesticulated with an absinthe spoon, as he spoke.

1997 Icon Thoughtstyle Mag. Apr. 42/2 You pour one or two inches of clear absinthe into a glass, then balance a trowel-shaped absinthe spoon across the rim.

2003 N.Y. Rev. Bks. 20 Nov. 13/1 The Metropolitan Museum was still wrangling over whether Impressionism‥was something invented in the absinthe shops of Paris.

C2. With reference to the yellow-green colour of absinthe, as absinthe colour, absinthe-coloured, absinthe green, etc.

1877 Edwardsville(Illinois)Intelligencer 12 Sept. 2/5 Among the newest shades are these suggestive names‥toad in moss green, absinthe green‥and matador red.

1883 M. E. Braddon Phantom Fortune II. ix. 221 Mr. Meander fell into another rhapsody over those classic cups and shallow little bowls of absinthe-coloured jade.

1908 W. G. B. Murdoch From Edinb. to India & Burmah v. 43, I remember‥the absinthe colour of the Nile with pale blue reflections.

1928 Harper's Mag. May 728/1 Her complexion was absinthe-color, she was French, and her name was Marthe.

1946 J. R. McCarthy Fire in Earth 210 They are called ‘fancies’, the rare stones of well-marked colours. They may be‥absinthe green, golden brown, orange, and every colour and combination of colours extant.

1974 H. R. Lane tr. C. Simon Conducting Bodies 8 Surrounded by divergent rays of light, like a sunburst, in an absinthe-colored sky.

2004 Guardian 11 Oct. 6 At Rochas, a wickedly dark absinthe green was the perfect shade for all those darkly chic silk separates.


One of my guests told me that the three absinthes I made for her (Amerique Rouge, Ridge Verte, and Clandestine) all made the half-bottle of a French Absinthe she has at home that her husband and she brought back from France in 2005 taste like crap! She also noted that the half-bottle at home, that is in a clear bottle and has been stored with the rest of their liquor in the open liquor cabinet, is still a bright green color.


I remain, fighting the good fight! :thumbup:

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Hey Maredudd, thanks for posting this entire entry from the Oxford English Dictionary. My old print copy from 1971 didn't have nearly as many entries (although, interestingly, it had a few different ones from the 1800s which aren't used in this newer definition).

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