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[boo r-buh n, bawr-, bohr- or, French, boor-bawn for 1–3; bur-buh n for 4 or occasionally for 3] /ˈbʊər bən, ˈbɔr-, ˈboʊr- or, French, burˈbɔ̃ for 1–3; ˈbɜr bən for 4 or occasionally for 3/
a member of a French royal family that ruled in France 1589–1792, Spain 1700–1931, and Naples 1735–1806, 1815–60.
[sharl] /ʃarl/ (Show IPA),
("Constable de Bourbon") 1490–1527, French general.
a person who is extremely conservative or reactionary.
(lowercase). Also called bourbon whiskey. a straight whiskey distilled from a mash having 51 percent or more corn: originally the corn whiskey produced in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for bourbons


a whiskey distilled, chiefly in the US, from maize, esp one containing at least 51 per cent maize (the rest being malt and rye) and aged in charred white-oak barrels
Word Origin
C19: named after Bourbon county, Kentucky, where it was first made


/ˈbʊəbən; French burbɔ̃/
  1. a member of the European royal line that ruled in France from 1589 to 1793 (when Louis XVI was executed by the revolutionaries) and was restored in 1815, continuing to rule in its Orleans branch from 1830 until 1848. Bourbon dynasties also ruled in Spain (1700–1808; 1813–1931) and Naples and Sicily (1734–1806; 1815–1860)
  2. (as modifier): the Bourbon kings
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bourbons



type of American corn whiskey, 1846, from Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it first was made, supposedly in 1789. Bourbon County was organized 1785, one of the nine established by the Virginia legislature before Kentucky became a state. The name reflects the fondness felt in the United States for the French royal family, and especially Louis XVI, in gratitude for the indispensable support he had given to the rebel colonists. See Bourbon.


line of French kings (who also ruled in Naples and Spain), of whom it was proverbially said, "they learn nothing and forget nothing." The royal family ruled in France 1589-1792 and 1815-1848; its name is from Bourbon l'Archambault, chief town of a lordship in central France, probably from Borvo, name of a local Celtic deity associated with thermal springs, whose name probably is related to Celtic borvo "foam, froth."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bourbons in Culture
Bourbons [(boor-bohnn, boor-buhnz)]

The ruling family of France from the late sixteenth century until the French Revolution. The Bourbon kings were known for their stubbornness; the politician Talleyrand is supposed to have said of them, “They have learned nothing, and they have forgotten nothing.” Louis xiv and Louis xvi were Bourbon kings.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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