Orange oranges

If “orange” wasn’t used as an adjective in the English language prior to ~1620, what colour were carrots in 1600? (Why do I suspect the answer is some variant of “red”?)

In reply to this column by Cecil,

Unless the 17th-century farmers started a long-term carrot breeding project to cultivate a species with a different color, I would bet the carrots of 1600 were approximately the same color as the carrots we have today. As for the name of the color, didn’t the bard say that “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet”?

Oh, and have a look at this previous thread on the subject. I forgot that guests are not able to search the forum archives.

There’s a wide variety of carrots, from yellow to purple, although most are unheard of in supermarkets or garden centres. There’s no more a single “carrot colour” than there is an “apple colour”.

Exactly when did orange carrots make their first appearance? (And where, for that matter?)

offers the other end of the stick

What I meant to ask was: what was the colour orange referred to prior to the introduction of the word orange. But, by all means, continue the historical discussion about carrots :slight_smile:

What Norwegians call “oransje” is a much narrower range of color than what English-speakers call “orange”. Some things that look clearly orange to my American eyes are described as red by most Norwegians. On the other hand, the Norsk word for “carrot” would translate literally as “yellow roots”, and oranges (the fruit) are often described as yellow, particularly when you’re talking about the flesh and not the rind. (The word for oranges is appelsin, totally unrelated to the color word.) People who can’t remember when oranges were a seasonal fruit frequently assume that their popularity at Easter is because yellow is the color of Easter in Norwegian tradition.

So I assume the color we now call orange, pre-1600, was simply divided between the yellowish shades of red and the reddish shades of yellow.

16th-century Dutch farmers did exactly that.

And you’d lose. Orange carrots didn’t become the norm in the English-speaking world until much later.

Did you read the previous discussion

It should answer your question. There was NO NEED to have a name for orange prior to the word appearing.