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I’m more than a little worried that I’m going to become despondent over the magnitude of this words project that I’ve taken on (writing comments on every word in the 1986 version of The New Penguin English Dictionary) and quit before a get very far into it. I don’t know if that will happen, but, if so, thank goodness I made it to the absinthe entry before I gave up.

I’ve heard the word absinthe a few times in my life. I was vaguely aware that it was something alcoholic, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure of that. And, even if I was right and it was alcoholic, I didn’t know the nature of the drink.

On the occasions when I heard the word, my ignorance of its meaning troubled me. That annoyance would plague me for a while, but I’d invariably forget about it long before I could get a chance to look up absinthe in a dictionary. Then, I’d hear the word again. Again I’d be troubled over my ignorance. Again I’d forget about it before I had a chance to look at it. And so on. And so on. And so on.

Finally, I’m here.

Before providing a definition, the dictionary tells me that you can also spell absinthe as absinth. Well, that’s handy. I’m always accidentally leaving off letters at the ends of words. Now I’ve got an excuse.

Next, it says that absinthe means wormwood. In addition, it says that absinthe is also a green-colored liqueur (yay! I was right about the alcoholic thing) made with wormwood (or aniseed if you don’t have any wormwood handy) and other aromatics.

Now I know!

Hmm. Wormwood. I’ve heard the word wormwood a few times in my life, but I’m not completely certain what it means. I’ve always been meaning to look it up, but I keep forgetting to do so. I wonder how many decades it will take me to get to the w words in this project. Hopefully not too many because I’m already 60 years old.

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