View Full Version : Orange, orange, and carrots

03-10-2004, 11:11 AM
This isn't really about http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_344a.html, although it's related.

I keep reading that orange carrots didn't exist until the 16th century, and that they were cultivated to match the colours of the Dutch rulers, the house of Orange, and combined with the late arrival of the word, to English at least, that brings up a few questions.

Does the French city of Orange have anything to do with the colour?

And if not, when did the house of Orange pick that colour?

And if the English weren't really late to aquire the word orange for the colour, how can they know there weren't any orange carrots around before that if they didn't have that word? %-)

03-10-2004, 11:38 AM
The principality of Orange originally referred to the region in southern France:


Eventually, the house of Orange, which held lands in both France and the Netherlands, became a political force to be reckoned with, and largely associated with the Netherlands, rather than their French origins.

Others can comment on the rest of your questions.

03-10-2004, 01:13 PM
The Romans, I think, adopted the Celtic name Arausio for the region. Apparently, this got conflated with the then-novel naranj, which in Provencal came to be called an auranja. I don't think there are any oranges grown there, now or in the past. The House of Orange is descended from the Princes of Orange (who were vassals of the Dukes of Burgundy), and their use of the color orange comes from the name.

As for the carrots, it's generally acknowledged that the "red" carrots of medieval times were today's purple carrots, and that the "yellow" carrots were essentially white to light yellow, and that breeding for color was the only way to get the intense orange of today's carrots. We can also be sure that they weren't orange before because While England may not have used "orange" as a color name until the 17th century, the Dutch knew about oranges (and the House of Orange) at least since around 1150, when the house was founded.

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