See also: Wormwood


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From Middle English wormwode, a folk etymology (as if worm +‎ wood) of wermode (wormwood), from Old English wermōd, wormōd (wormwood, absinthe), from Proto-West Germanic *warjamōdā (wormwood). Cognate with Middle Low German wermode, wermede (wormwood), German Wermut (wormwood). Doublet of vermouth.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈwə(ɹ)m.wʊd/
  • (US)


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.
    Synonyms: grande wormwood, absinthe, mugwort, artemisia
  2. Something that causes bitterness or affliction; a cause of mortification or vexation.
    • 1789, John Moore, Zeluco, Valancourt 2008, p. 57:
      The irony of this reply was wormwood to Zeluco; he fell into a gloomy fit of musing, and made no farther inquiry [] .

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