Etymology of Orange- What Came First, the Color or the Fruit?

05 Nov 2018


Have you ever wondered where colors get their names?

Why is yellow called yellow? And why is red called red?

The answer is that they are just basic words. These words were given to each color, in order to describe a whole range of shades associated with them. And the different shades associated with each color generally get their names from things that are that particular shade.

For example: Hunter green comes from the shade of green worn by 18th-century hunters in England. And it’s pretty clear how “fire engine red,” and “midnight blue” got their names. Canary yellow comes from the color of canary birds, and emerald green gets its name from the emerald gemstone.

There is one color, however, that does not seem to have just been assigned a random name—Orange!

Up until the 17th century, it appears that orange did not even have a name. A description of the color was found in several pieces of literature, but the word “orange” was nowhere to be seen.

According to this fascinating Literary Hub article , it was not until oranges became readily available in Europe that the color finally was given its own name.

So, it seems that the answer to the question is, it was the fruit that came first!

Now we just need to find an article that solves the “chicken or the egg” conundrum!


Watercooler Writer 
Ever wonder what writers talk about? Our writers are always sharing something new with each other; from the latest and greatest in apps and technology to grammar rules and the origin of certain words. With our Watercooler Writer series, we have taken our very best finds, and are sharing them with you.

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