wormwood

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See also: Wormwood

English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English wormwode, a folk etymology (as if worm +‎ wood) 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). Doublet of vermouth.

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Noun[edit]

wormwood (countable and uncountable, plural wormwoods)

  1. An intensely bitter herb (Artemisia absinthium and similar plants in genus Artemisia) used in medicine, in the production of absinthe and vermouth, and as a tonic.
    • ca. 1591–95, William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene iii (the nurse's monologue).
      But as I said, / When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple / Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool, / To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!
    • 1611, King James Version, Jeremiah 9:15:
      Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.
    • ca. 1864, John Clare, "We passed by green closes":
      Blue skippers in sunny hours ope and shut
      Where wormwood and grunsel flowers by the cart ruts []
    • 1897, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Children of the Night, "Cliff Klingenhagen":
      Cliff took two glasses and filled one with wine
      And one with wormwood.
  2. Anything that causes bitterness or affliction.

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