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wormwood

[wurm-woo d]
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noun
  1. any composite herb or low shrub of the genus Artemisia.
  2. a bitter, aromatic plant, A. absinthium, of the Old World, used as a vermifuge and a tonic, and as an ingredient in absinthe.
  3. something bitter, grievous, or extremely unpleasant.
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Origin of wormwood

1350–1400; late Middle English wormwode (see worm, wood1); replacing Middle English wermode, Old English wermōd; cognate with German Wermut; see vermouth
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wormwood

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I have summoned you here to witness it, because I know it will be gall and wormwood to you!

  • Give it brimstone and treacle and a cupful of wormwood and camomile.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • This was wormwood and gall to the parent, but he did not spare himself.

  • He had to live on her money, which galled him, and to be assisted by the Dean's money, which was wormwood to him.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope

  • It may easily be conceived that all this was gall and wormwood to the Baroness Banmann.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope


British Dictionary definitions for wormwood

wormwood

noun
  1. Also called: absinthe any of various plants of the chiefly N temperate genus Artemisia, esp A. absinthium, a European plant yielding a bitter extract used in making absinthe: family Asteraceae (composites)
  2. something that embitters, such as a painful experience
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Word Origin

C15: changed (through influence of worm and wood 1) from Old English wormōd, wermōd; related to Old High German werrnuata, German Wermut; see vermouth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for wormwood

n.

c.1400, folk etymology of Old English wermod "wormwood," related to vermouth, but the ultimate etymology is unknown. Cf. Old Saxon wermoda, Dutch wermoet, Old High German werimuota, German Wermut. Weekley suggests wer "man" + mod "courage," from its early use as an aphrodisiac. Figurative use, however, is usually in reference to its bitter aftertaste. Perhaps because of the folk etymology, it formerly was used to protect clothes and bedding from moths and fleas. "A medecyne for an hawke that hath mites. Take the Iuce of wormewode and put it ther thay be and thei shall dye." ["Book of St. Albans," 1486]

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper