Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several aromatic plants of the genus Artemisia, especially A. absinthium, native to Europe, yielding a bitter extract used in making absinthe and in flavoring certain wines.
  • n. Something harsh or embittering.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An intensely bitter herb (various plants in genus Artemisia) used in the production of absinthe and vermouth, and as a tonic.
  • n. Anything that causes bitterness or affliction.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A composite plant (Artemisia Absinthium), having a bitter and slightly aromatic taste, formerly used as a tonic and a vermifuge, and to protect woolen garments from moths. It gives the peculiar flavor to the cordial called absinthe. The volatile oil is a narcotic poison. The term is often extended to other species of the same genus.
  • n. Anything very bitter or grievous; bitterness.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A. somewhat woody perennial herb, Artemisia Absinthium, native in Europe and Asiatic Russia, found in old gardens and by roadsides in North America.
  • n. Figuratively
  • n. Bitterness.
  • n. By transference of the name, the common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiæfolia, a bitter plant with foliage dissected somewhat like that of an artemisia.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of several low composite herbs of the genera Artemisia or Seriphidium

Etymologies

Middle English wormwode, alteration (influenced by worm, worm, and wode, wood, perhaps from the use of its leaves as a vermifuge) of wermod, from Old English wermōd, from Germanic *wermōdaz.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English wormwode, alteration of wermode ("wormwood"), from Old English wermōd, wormōd ("wormwood, absinthe"), from Proto-Germanic *wermōdaz (“wormwood”). Cognate with Middle Low German wermode, wermede ("wormwood"), German Wermut ("wormwood"). See vermouth. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • [ "Make wormwood wine thus: take _aqua vitæ_ and malmsey, of each like much, put it in a glasse or bottell with _a few leaves of dried wormwood_, and let it stand certain days,] and strein out a little spoonfull, and drink it with a draught of ale or wine: [it may be long preserved.]" [

    Notes and Queries, Number 72, March 15, 1851 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc.

  • In Europe, however, this isn't the case; "wormwood" is used only for the absinth-producing species, Artemisia absinthium.

    A star called Mugwort

  • The myth of absinthe's mind-altering properties is based on the idea that a chemical in wormwood called thujone causes hallucinations and other mental instability, and even addiction.

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • Dr. Magnan would later blame the chemical thujone, contained in wormwood, for these effects. [wiki]

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • No wonder your home brew tasted awful: wormwood is exceedingly bitter.

    The Rise and Fall of the Green Fairy

  • Confusing mugwort with wormwood is at the level of confusing potato (Solanum tuberosum) with black nightshade (Solanum nigrum) because they share the genus Solanum.

    A star called Mugwort

  • Yes, I recall the wormwood, which is always a planted herb, so there must have been folks there before the Todds 'day.

    Poor Joanna

  • Among the ingredients they searched for was thujone, a substance found in wormwood that some have claimed existed in higher quantities in pre-ban absinthe than in the modern stuff, and might have caused effects that we don’t see today.

    The green fairy loses her mystique

  • The drink had been a nineteenth-century fad with a bad rep because an herbal ingredient called wormwood had a marijuana-like effect.

    Silver Zombie

  • Well, it is a type of Artemisia, commonly called wormwood one species of which is also known as Absinthe, and it is used in herbal preparations and Asian cuisine – in fact, one of my favorite foods is buckwheat Soba flavored with the fresh leafiness of Mugwort, which gives a really interesting greenish tint to the noodles.

    Archive 2008-12-01

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Comments

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  • Calvin's teacher.

    April 15, 2009

  • Not from worm + wood. The medial -w- first appears around 1400; the earlier English was wermod, of unknown etymology. The German form Wermuth (modern Wermut) gives us vermouth via French.

    April 15, 2009

  • As opposed to woodworm?

    November 25, 2007