The drink bourbon was created in the late 1700s, but it wasn't until the 1840s that people started calling it that. Because of the gap between the creation and the name, etymologists aren't a hundred percent certain why we call it that. The most likely theory is that it's named after Bourbon County in Kentucky, where stories say the drink was invented. However, all the stories about the origins of bourbon are likely apocryphal, and the dates don't line up too well. Another possibility is that it's named after a former region of Virginia called Old Bourbon, which encompassed parts of Kentucky until it broke away and formed its own state in 1792. Finally, it might be after a famous avenue in New Orleans named Bourbon Street, because it was the site of a port where they sold a lot of Kentucky whiskey. In any case, all three of these locations are named after the House of Bourbon, a royal family that ruled France from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. Their name comes from a town in France that was in turned named after a Celtic god of hot springs, Borvo.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.