Why is rum called rum?

Answered by Joseph Earl

Why is called rum? Well, the origins of the word “rum” are not entirely clear, but there are a few theories that give us some insight into its possible origins.

One theory suggests that “rum” may be a shortened version of the slang words “rumbullion” or “rumbustion.” These words are believed to represent a great tumult or a type of uproar. This theory alludes to the rowdy and spirited nature often associated with the consumption of rum.

Another theory proposes that the word “rum” may have derived from the word “roemer,” a Dutch word for a large glass. This theory suggests that rum may have been initially served in these large , giving rise to its association with the term.

In my personal experience as a sommelier and brewer, I have come across various stories and anecdotes regarding the etymology of rum. One interesting tale I heard while visiting a rum distillery in the Caribbean involved the connection between rum and pirates. It is said that pirates, who were known for their love of rum, would often gather together and create a “rumbullion” or a “rumbustion” during their lively celebrations. Over time, these terms may have been adapted and shortened to simply “rum.”

Another story I came across during my travels in the Caribbean revolves around the British Navy and their daily ration of rum. It is believed that the term “rum” may have originated from the abbreviation for “rumbullion,” which was used to describe the daily rum ration given to sailors. This ration was an integral part of the sailors' daily routine and was often associated with merriment and camaraderie.

While these theories provide some insight into the origins of the word “rum,” it is important to note that the true etymology may never be definitively known. The history of language and slang is often complex and influenced by various factors such as regional dialects and cultural practices.

The word “rum” may have derived from slang terms like “rumbullion” or “rumbustion” which represented a tumultuous atmosphere. It could also have originated from the Dutch word “roemer,” referring to a large glass. These theories, along with tales of pirates and the British Navy, offer intriguing explanations for the origins of the word “rum.” However, the true origin may forever remain a mystery.