Absinthe or Absinth?

Absenta… Absynthe… Those four words appear to be optional spellings for the same alcoholic beverage also known as the ‘Green Fairy’. However, the latter ones are not used as frequently as the others two. ‘Absynthe’ is also considered to be an archaic misspelling of absinthe.

ArtemisThe French word absinthe derives from the name of the very herb used in the spirit production – ‘Artemisia Absinthium’ or just wormwood. The Latin ‘Artemisia’ stands for the name of the Greek goddess of hills and forests Artemis. And ‘Absinthium’ comes from the Greek ‘Apsínthion’ which means “wormwood” or, as some people claim, “undrinkable” for the extremely bitter taste of the herb.

According to the statistics of online usage, the name ‘absinthe’ occupies the leading position with more than 3 970 000 results for key word search against of approximately 1 390 000 for ‘absinth’. It is also true to say that the latter variant is mostly usual for Eastern and Central Europe and in common usage in Czech Republic, Germany, Holland and some parts of Switzerland.

Hills AbsinthThere is as well an alternative understanding of the difference in spelling of the name of the liquor. In accordance with that point of view the ‘absinth’ variant was first applied by Czech entrepreneurs in order to associate their alcoholic beverage called ‘Hills’ with the name and reputation of the world-known absinthe. Presumably, they didn’t take the historical pattern of the spirit preparation into consideration and the outcome of their effort was lacking quality and even proper resemblance with the genuine absinthe.

Thus, within this extremely controversial perspective, absinth is believed to be an alcoholic drink completely different from absinthe, caught up by other European producers and retaining not only the same spelling but also the same style.

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