Where does the name come from?
The origins of the name “rum” are as murky as a vat of molasses, with at least seven competing theories about it. Here are our five favorites:
1) It comes from rummers, the Dutch word for oversized drinking glasses used by sailors from the Netherlands—during a time when Dutch settlers farmed sugarcane in Barbados, the birthplace of rum as we know it today.
2) It derives from the 17th century English slang term “rum” which meant, approximately, ‘the best.” And since the New World spirit was not whisky or brandy or any of the other brown liquids, it needed a new name.
3) It’s coined from the final syllable of saccharum, the Latin word for sugar.
4) “Rum” grew out of another English word, “rumpullion,” sometimes also rendered as “rumbustion.” Both terms refer to “a great tumult or uproar” and may derive from 17th century slang used by English settlers in Barbados. Described as a “hellish, hot liquid,” early rum was rough around the edges, and the term may have been coined as combination of the adjective rum (from the Romani word meaning, ‘male, good man’) and boullion, a French term for “hot drink,” then simply shortened to rum. Got that? It’s actually the most widely accepted theory.
5) Not for nothing, but there’s a sugar-based spirit invented by the Malay people in the 14th century that’s called brum.