Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A wine bottle holding 4/5 of a gallon (3.03 liters).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A wine bottle having a capacity of 3 litres.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A large bowl or goblet, generally of metal.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a large wine bottle (holds 4/5 of a gallon)
  • n. (Old Testament) first king of the northern kingdom of Israel who led Israel into sin (10th century BC)

Etymologies

After Jeroboam I (died c. 901 B.C.), king of northern Israel.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The prize is a collection of PG Wodehouse novels, a jeroboam of champagne and the honour of naming a Gloucester Spot pig.

    Sam Leith and India Knight in running for Wodehouse book prize

  • McEwan received the hog – and a jeroboam of champagne – as a prize for comic writing in his latest novel, "Solar."

    Hay Festival In UK Brings 'Mongrel Mix' Of Authors And Intellectuals

  • The jeroboam meant one kept on pouring from an open vessel.

    Naked Cruelty

  • He had reached for the jeroboam, but jerked his hand away.

    Naked Cruelty

  • A friend who attended one of Fry and Laurie's parties in the north London home they shared remembers champagne poured from a jeroboam, while the hosts exchanged bons mots with Kate Bush.

    Stephen Fry: The know-all who is everybody's friend

  • He brought with him from New York a crock of mustard, a jeroboam of champagne, cocktail napkins with a picture of a plane flying over a building on them, twenty egret feathers “You cannot get them anymore—strictly illegal,” Tucker whispered to me, and, under his black cowboy hat with the rhinestone-studded chin strap, a toy frog that hopped when wound.

    The New Yorker Stories

  • (You can go higher, too: Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild goes for around $220, while a jeroboam -- a six-liter bottle -- of Taittinger champagne is $600 plus.)

    After Hours: Ulan Bator

  • The jeroboam of 1976 Bollinger La Grande Année we drank for our millennium celebration was the best Champagne we've ever had.

    Rails, Romance and Really Good Wine

  • Between these two extremes is a growing variety of delicious wines sold in large-format bottles by wineries world-wide, and available at a range of affordable price levels, from a €35 magnum of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 from Stellenbosch, South Africa, to a €190 jeroboam (or three-liter) bottle of Domaine Pegau Châteauneuf du Pape 2004.

    When a Double Magnum is Just the Right Bottle

  • Years ago, we imagine someone told some friends that it would be infanticide to open their prized jeroboam, the equivalent of four regular-size bottles.

    Corkscrews Up! Time to Open That Bottle

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Comments

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  • Thanks, jmp! Very interesting. Aren't Balthazar and Melchior the traditional names of the three Magi? I wonder why Caspar is missing?

    July 21, 2008

  • The reason why biblical names were chosen for these larger sizes is unknown. The term Jeroboam appears to have been used in Bordeaux from around 1725. Adopted in Champagne, the other bottles were probably named simply by analogy with the first in the series. Jeroboam was the founder and first king of the kingdom of Israel at the beginning of the first millennium before Christ. It is curious to note that Eustache Deschamps lists Jeroboam, Roboan (Roboam or Rehoboam) and Balthazar in his Balade MCCXLIX. As for the explanation of why Jeroboam was chosen by the wine-makers of Bordeaux, perhaps the answer lies in the Bible, in which Jeroboam is described as a man of great value; a jeroboam of Château Latour is undoubtedly a bottle of great value!- UNION of CHAMPAGNE HOUSES

    Biblical champagne bottle sizes:
    Jeroboam (Founder and first king of Israel, 931-910 BC)
    Rehoboam, son of Solomon (King of Judah, 922-908 BC)
    Methuselah (Biblical patriarch who lived to the age of 969)
    Salmanazar (King of Assyria, 859-824 BC)
    Balthazar (Regent of Babylon, son of Nabonide, 539BC)
    Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon, 605-562 BC).

    Other sizes:
    Melchior
    Solomon
    Primat
    Melchizedek

    July 20, 2008

  • JMP, any idea how this name of a Biblical king came to be associated with a big bottle of vino?

    July 20, 2008

  • A large champagne bottle, 4 - 6 regular bottles or 3 - 4½ litres (140 - 210 oz = 7 - 10½ imperial pints, 8Ÿ - 13-and-a-bit US pints)

    July 20, 2008

  • I think I've seen this word before. It brought back old, old memories of religion class... like third-grade religion class...

    May 15, 2008