AskDefine | Define rum

Dictionary Definition

rum adj : beyond or deviating from the usual or expected; "a curious hybrid accent"; "her speech has a funny twang"; "they have some funny ideas about war"; "had an odd name"; "the peculiar aromatic odor of cloves"; "something definitely queer about this town"; "what a rum fellow"; "singular behavior" [syn: curious, funny, odd, peculiar, queer, rummy, singular]


1 distilled from fermented molasses
2 a card game based on collecting sets and sequences; the winner is the first to meld all their cards [syn: rummy]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Rum




  1. A distilled spirit derived from fermented cane sugar and molasses.
    “The Royal Navy used to issue a rum ration to sailors.”
  2. A serving of rum.
    “Jake tossed down three rums.”
  3. A kind or brand of rum.
    “Bundaburg is one of my favourite rums.”



  1. Strange, peculiar.

See also




  1. rum



  1. room; part of a building.

Fijian Hindi


From room


  • /ruːm/





  1. space

Old English


From Germanic *rūma- (noun and adjective). Cognate with Old Saxon rūm , rūmo adj (Dutch ruim & adj), Old High German rūm , rūmi adj (German Raum ), Old Norse rūm , rúmr adj (Swedish rum ), Gothic 𐍂𐌿𐌼 , 𐍂𐌿𐌼𐍃 adj.


IPA: /ru:m/


  1. space; a room
  2. a space of time, an interval; an opportunity
    Rum wæs to nimanne londbuendum on ðam laðestan...: it was an opportunity for the land-dwellers to seize from the most hated ones... (Judith)


  1. spacious, roomy, open
    Ðis rume land: the wide world (Cædmon’s Metrical Paraphrase)
  2. free, unrestricted
  3. expansive, generous
  4. long, extended (of time)







  1. same as English.




  1. room; part of a building.
    Jag vill ha en lägenhet med två rum = I want a flat with two rooms
  2. room; empty, available space; enough space
    Har du rum i din väska så att du kan lägga ner min bok också? = Do you have space enough in your bag so that you could put my book too in it?
  3. space
    Linjärt rum = Linear space

Related terms




Extensive Definition

For other uses, see Rum (disambiguation).
Rum is a distilled beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak and other barrels. The majority of the world's rum production occurs in and around the Caribbean islands and in several South American countries, such as Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil, though there are rum producers in places such as Australia, Fiji, India, Reunion Island, Mauritius, and elsewhere around the world. Rum is produced in a variety of styles. Light rums are commonly used in cocktails, while golden and dark rums are appropriate for drinking straight, as a brandy, or for use in cooking as well as cocktails. Premium brands of rum are also available that are made to be consumed neat or on the rocks.
Rum plays a part in the culture of most islands of the West Indies, and has famous associations with the British Royal Navy and piracy. Rum has also served as a popular medium of exchange that helped to promote slavery along with providing economic instigation for Australia's Rum Rebellion and the American Revolution.


The origin of the word rum is unclear. A common claim is that the name was derived from rumbullion meaning "a great tumult or uproar". Another claim is that the name is from the large drinking glasses used by Dutch seamen known as rummers, from the Dutch word roemer, a drinking glass. Other options include contractions of the words saccharum, Latin for sugar, or arôme, French for aroma. Regardless of the original source, the name was already in common use by May 1657 when the General Court of Massachusetts made illegal the sale of strong liquor "whether knowne by the name of rumme, strong water, wine, brandy, etc., etc." A version of rum from Newfoundland is referred to by the name Screech, while some low-grade West Indies rums are called tafia.



The precursors to rum date back to antiquity. Development of fermented drinks produced from sugarcane juice is believed to have first occurred either in ancient India or China, Marco Polo also recorded a 14th-century account of a "very good wine of sugar" that was offered to him in what is modern-day Iran. Later, distillation of these alcoholic by-products concentrated the alcohol and removed impurities, producing the first true rums. Tradition suggests that rum first originated on the island of Barbados. Regardless of its initial source, early Caribbean rums were not known for high quality.
A 1651 document from Barbados stated, "The chief fuddling they make in the island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor". The manufacture of rum became early Colonial New England's largest and most prosperous industry. New England became a distilling center (due to the superior technical, metalworking and cooperage (barrel making) skills and abundant lumber); the rum produced there was lighter, more like whiskey, and was superior to the character and aroma of the West Indies product. Anyone who could afford it much preferred it to the Caribbean product. Rhode Island rum even joined gold as an accepted currency in Europe for a period of time. Estimates of rum consumption in the American colonies before the American Revolutionary War had every man, woman, or child drinking an average of 3 Imperial gallons (13.5 liters) of rum each year.
To support this demand for the molasses to produce rum, along with the increasing demand for sugar in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, a labor source to work the sugar plantations in the Caribbean was needed. A triangular trade was established between Africa, the Caribbean, and the colonies to help support this need. The exchange of slaves, molasses, and rum was quite profitable, and the disruption to the trade caused by the Sugar Act in 1764 may have even helped cause the American Revolution. Eventually the restrictions on rum from the British islands of the Caribbean combined with the development of American whiskey led to a decline in the drink's popularity.

Naval rum

Rum's association with piracy began with English privateers trading on the valuable commodity. As some of the privateers became pirates and buccaneers, their fondness for rum remained, the association between the two only being strengthened by literary works such as Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.
The association of rum with the British Royal Navy began in 1655 when the British fleet captured the island of Jamaica. With the availability of domestically produced rum, the British changed the daily ration of liquor given to seamen from French brandy to rum. While the ration was originally given neat, or mixed with lime juice, the practice of watering down the rum began around 1740. To help minimize the effect of the alcohol on his sailors, Admiral Edward Vernon directed that the rum ration be watered down before being issued, a mixture which became known as grog. While it is widely believed that the term grog was coined at this time in honor of the grogram cloak Admiral Vernon wore in rough weather , the term has been demonstrated to predate his famous orders with probable origins in the West Indies, perhaps of African etymology (see Grog). The Royal Navy continued to give its sailors a daily rum ration, known as a "tot," until the practice was abolished after July 31, 1970.
A story involving naval rum is that following his victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, Horatio Nelson's body was preserved in a cask of rum to allow transport back to England. Upon arrival, however, the cask was opened and found to be empty of rum. The pickled body was removed and, upon inspection, it was discovered that the sailors had drilled a hole in the bottom of the cask and drunk all the rum, in the process drinking Nelson's blood. Thus, this tale serves as a basis for the term Nelson's Blood being used to describe rum. It also serves as the basis for the term "Tapping the Admiral" being used to describe drinking the daily rum ration. The details of the story are disputed, as many historians claim the cask contained French Brandy whilst others claim instead the term originated from a toast to Admiral Nelson. It should be noted that variations of the story, involving different noteable corpses, have been in circulation for many years.

Colonial Australia

See Also: Rum Rebellion
Rum became an important trade good in the early period of the colony of New South Wales. The value of rum was based upon the lack of coinage among the population of the colony, and due to the drink's ability to allow its consumer to temporarily forget about the lack of creature comforts available in the new colony. The value of rum was such that convict settlers could be induced to work the lands owned by officers of the New South Wales Corps. Due to rum's popularity among the settlers, the colony gained a reputation for drunkenness even though their alcohol consumption was less than levels commonly consumed in England at the time.
When William Bligh became governor of the colony in 1806, he attempted to remedy the perceived problem with drunkenness by outlawing the use of rum as a medium of exchange. In response to this action, and several others, the New South Wales Corps marched, with fixed bayonets, to Government House and placed Bligh under arrest. The mutineers continued to control the colony until the arrival of Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1810.

Caribbean light rum

Until the second half of the 19th century all rums were heavy or dark rums that were considered appropriate for the working poor, unlike the refined double-distilled spirits of Europe. In order to expand the market for rum, the Spanish Royal Development Board offered a prize to anyone who could improve the rum making process. This resulted in many refinements in the process which greatly improved the quality of rum. One of the most important figures in this development process was Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, who moved from Spain to Santiago de Cuba in 1843. Don Facundo's experiments with distillation techniques, charcoal filtering, cultivating of specialized yeast strains, and aging with American oak casks helped to produce a smoother and mellower drink typical of modern light rums. It was with this new rum that Don Facundo founded Bacardí y Compañía in 1862.


Dividing rum into meaningful groupings is complicated by the fact that there is no single standard for what constitutes rum. Instead rum is defined by the varying rules and laws of the nations that produce the spirit. The differences in definitions include issues such as spirit proof, minimum aging, and even naming standards.
Examples of the differences in proof is Colombia, requiring their rum possess a minimum alcohol content of 50 ABV, while Chile and Venezuela require only a minimum of 40 ABV. Mexico requires rum be aged a minimum of 8 months; the Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela require two years. Naming standards also vary, Argentina defining rums as white, gold, light, and extra light. Barbados uses the terms white, overproof, and matured, while the United States defines rum, rum liqueur, and flavored rum. In Australia Rum is divided into Dark Rum (Under Proof known as UP, Over Proof known as OP, and triple distilled) and White Rum.
Despite these differences in standards and nomenclature, the following divisions are provided to help show the wide variety of rums that are produced.

Regional Variations

Within the Caribbean, each island or production area has a unique style. For the most part, these styles can be grouped by the language that is traditionally spoken. Due to the overwhelming influence of Puerto Rican rum, most rum consumed in the United States is produced in the Spanish-speaking style.
  • English-speaking islands and countries are known for darker rums with a fuller taste that retains a greater amount of the underlying molasses flavor. Rums from Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, the Demerara region of Guyana, and Jamaica are typical of this style.
  • French-speaking islands are best known for their agricultural rums (rhum agricole). These rums, being produced exclusively from sugar cane juice, retain a greater amount of the original flavor of the sugar cane and are generally more expensive than molasses-based rums. Rums from Haïti, Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante and Martinique are typical of this style.
Cachaça is a spirit similar to rum that is produced in Brazil. Seco, from Panama, is also a spirit similar to rum, but also similar to vodka, since it is triple distilled. The Indonesian spirit Batavia Arrack, or Arrak, is a spirit similar to rum that includes rice in its production. Mexico produces a number of brands of light and dark rum, as well as other less expensive flavored and unflavored sugar cane based liquors, such as aguardiente de caña and charanda. In some cases cane liquor is flavored with mezcal to produce a pseudo-tequila-like drink.
A spirit known as Aguardiente, distilled from molasses and often infused with anise, with additional sugarcane juice added after distillation, is produced in Central America and northern South America.
In West Africa, and particularly in Liberia, cane juice (also known as Liberian rum or simply CJ within Liberia itself, is a cheap, strong spirit distilled from sugar cane, which can be as strong as 86 proof.
Within Europe, a similar spirit made from sugar beet is known as tuzemák (from tuzemský rum, domestic rum) in the Czech Republic and Kobba Libre on the Åland Islands.
In Germany, a cheap substitute of dark rum is called Rum-Verschnitt (literally: cut rum). This distilled beverage is made of genuine dark rum (often from Jamaica), rectified spirit, and water. Very often, caramel coloring is used, too. The relative amount of genuine rum it contains can be quite low since the legal minimum is at only 5 percent, but the taste of Rumverschnitt is still very similar to genuine dark rum. In Austria, a similar rum called Inländerrum or domestic rum is available.


The grades and variations used to describe rum depend on the location that a rum was produced. Despite these variations the following terms are frequently used to describe various types of rum:
  • Light Rums, also referred to as light, silver, and white rums. In general, light rum has very little flavor aside from a general sweetness, and serves accordingly as a base for cocktails. Light rums are sometimes filtered after aging to remove any color. The Brazilian immensely popular Cachaça belongs to this type.
  • Gold Rums, also called amber rums, are medium-bodied rums which are generally aged. These gain their dark color from aging in wooden barrels (usually the charred white oak barrels that are the byproduct of Bourbon Whiskey).
  • Spiced Rum: These rums obtain their flavor through addition of spices and, sometimes, caramel. Most are darker in color, and based on gold rums. Some are significantly darker, while many cheaper brands are made from inexpensive white rums and darkened with artificial caramel color.
  • Dark Rum, also known as black rum, classes as a grade darker than gold rum. It is generally aged longer, in heavily charred barrels. Dark rum has a much stronger flavor than either light or gold rum, and hints of spices can be detected, along with a strong molasses or caramel overtone. It is used to provide substance in rum drinks, as well as color. In addition to uses in mixed drinks, dark rum is the type of rum most commonly used in cooking.
  • Flavored Rum: Some manufacturers have begun to sell rums which they have infused with flavors of fruits such as mango, orange, citrus, coconut, and lime which is a lime rum found in Sweden. These serve to flavor similarly themed tropical drinks which generally comprise less than 40% alcohol, and are also often drunk neat or on the rocks.
  • Overproof Rum is rum which is much higher than the standard 40% alcohol. Most of these rums bear greater than 75%, in fact, and preparations of 151 to 160 proof occur commonly.
  • Premium Rum: As with other sipping spirits, such as Cognac and Scotch, a market exists for premium and super-premium rums. These are generally boutique brands which sell very aged and carefully produced rums. They have more character and flavor than their "mixing" counterparts, and are generally consumed without the addition of other ingredients.

Production methodology

Unlike some other spirits, such as Cognac and Scotch, rum has no defined production methods. Instead, rum production is based on traditional styles that vary between locations and distillers.


Most rum produced is made from molasses. Within the Caribbean, much of this molasses is from Brazil. Dunder, the yeast-rich foam from previous fermentations, is the traditional yeast source in Jamaica. "The yeast employed will determine the final taste and aroma profile," says Jamaican master blender Joy Spence. and the Mojito. Cold-weather drinks made with rum include the Rum toddy and Hot Buttered Rum. In addition to these well-known cocktails, a number of local specialties utilize rum. Examples of these local drinks include Bermuda's Dark and Stormy (Gosling's Black Seal rum with ginger beer), and the Painkiller from the British Virgin Islands.
Rum may also be used as a base in the manufacture of liqueurs. Spiced Rum is made by infusing rum with a combination of spices. Another combination is jagertee, a mixture of rum and black tea.
Rum may also be used in a number of cooked dishes. It may be used as a flavoring agent in items such as rum balls or rum cakes. Rum is commonly used to macerate fruit used in fruitcakes and is also used in marinades for some Caribbean dishes. Rum is also used in the preparation of Bananas Foster and some hard sauces.
Ti Punch is short for "petit punch", little punch. This is a very traditional drink in the French-speaking region of the Caribbean.



  • The Complete Book of Spirits : A Guide to Their History, Production, and Enjoyment
  • The History of Australia
  • Spirits & Liqueurs
  • Nelson's Blood: The Story of Naval Rum
  • Food in History

Further reading

  • And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails (author interview)
  • Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776 (extract)
  • Rum
  • Classic Rum
  • Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink that Changed Conquered the World
  • Caribbean Rum: A Social and Economic History (Introduction)

External links

History & Information

rum in Bulgarian: Ром
rum in Catalan: Rom
rum in Czech: Rum
rum in Danish: Rom (spiritus)
rum in German: Rum
rum in Modern Greek (1453-): Ρούμι
rum in Spanish: Ron
rum in Esperanto: Rumo
rum in French: Rhum
rum in Galician: Ron
rum in Indonesian: Rum
rum in Icelandic: Romm
rum in Italian: Rum
rum in Hebrew: רום
rum in Georgian: რომი (სასმელი)
rum in Haitian: Wonm
rum in Latin: Rhomium
rum in Luxembourgish: Rum
rum in Lithuanian: Romas
rum in Macedonian: Рум
rum in Malayalam: റം
rum in Malay (macrolanguage): Rum
rum in Dutch: Rum (drank)
rum in Japanese: ラム酒
rum in Norwegian: Rom (brennevin)
rum in Norwegian Nynorsk: Drikken rom
rum in Polish: Rum
rum in Portuguese: Rum
rum in Russian: Ром
rum in Simple English: Rum
rum in Slovak: Rum
rum in Slovenian: Rum
rum in Finnish: Rommi
rum in Swedish: Rom (spritdryck)
rum in Turkish: Rom (içki)
rum in Ukrainian: Ром
rum in Chinese: 兰姆酒

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

John Barleycorn, OK, absurd, ace-high, alcohol, alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drink, aqua vitae, ardent spirits, bad, bang-up, beverage, bizarre, bonzer, booze, boss, brew, bully, but good, cool, corking, crackerjack, curious, dandy, delicious, drink, ducky, eccentric, fab, fine and dandy, freaked out, freaky, funny, gear, great, grog, groovy, hard liquor, heavy, hot, hunky-dory, idiosyncratic, inebriant, intoxicant, intoxicating liquor, jam-up, just dandy, keen, kooky, liquor, little brown jug, marvy, mean, neat, nifty, nobby, odd, oddball, off, off the wall, okay, out, out of sight, outlandish, passing strange, peachy, peachy-keen, peculiar, potable, potation, punch bowl, quaint, queer, ripping, schnapps, scrumptious, singular, slap-up, smashing, social lubricant, solid, something else, spiffing, spiffy, spirits, strange, strong drink, strong waters, stunning, swell, the Demon Rum, the bottle, the cup, the flowing bowl, the luscious liquor, the ruddy cup, tough, toxicant, unearthly, water of life, weird, wizard, wondrous strange
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