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apt-get: purging a package that has already been removed?

Sorry if this is a stupid question, but...

Suppose foo has already been removed without the --purge option, and I
later want to purge it.

# apt-get --purge remove foo
gives the error that foo is not installed and therefore takes no action.

I can work around this with
# apt-get install foo
# apt-get --purge remove foo
but that seems silly.  Is there a "correct" way to purge foo?

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