Which came first - orange or orange?

Was the colour orange named after the fruit? Or was the fruit named after the colour?

I found this:

at this site: http://www.westegg.com/etymology/
All the dictionaries I consulted had basically the same etymology for the word, without the fancifal story attached (i.e.: Sanskrit (na)ranga = orange tree

Under this origin, the fruit is named first, the color is named after the color of the fruit.

The word “orange” is Middle English, from Old French orenge, orange, from Arabic naranj, from Persian narang, from Sanskrit naranga, which means orange or orange tree.

The dictionary’s a wonderful thing.

You may deduct that since there is an entemologic history for the fruit and none for the color, that the fruit was called orange first.

It’s ‘deduce’ not ‘deduct’.


Anyhoo, thanks for clearing that up - wasn’t much of a challenge, really, was it?

Okay, next test: How come ‘Having one’s work cut out’ means being given more work, rather than a reduction in work?

To anyone who ever worked in a garment factory, it’s obvious. Someone’s cut a zillion pieces of cloth out of the original bolts, and they’re all in your “in basket” to be sewn together into shirts.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

By the way, my Latin dictionary has no word for orange (the color). The color was probably named after the fruit.

Don’t be surprised. Different languages have different notions of the spectrum, and “orange” is usually one of the last colors to get a word.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

What would you guys do without me?

“The noun preceded the adjective”

Actually, I mean, what would you do with out Cecil and me to find links to his archive.

[ backing out of thread bowing repeatedly to the Cecil shrine… ]

See Berlin and Kay, Basic Color Terms. Any word with the same name as an object of that name is morphologically suspect and unlikely to be a basic colour term. Think of violet, rose, and of course orange. Modern Irish still doesn’t have a word for the colour orange (they use bui: ‘yellow’), but the fruit is ora:iste.

So where does the traditional ruling house of the Netherlands get its name from? The fruit or the color? And while we’re at it, why isn’t there an Orange Curacao?

I recall a similar discussion elsewhere, quite a few years ago, in which somebody cited a medieval document that described “that colour between red and yellow”. Sorry, no reference. :frowning:

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

So I think we can dismiss the elephant theory. All in favour say ‘aye!’

GuanoLad wrote:

Not when you’re fuguring your income taxes, it’s not.

Well, I don’t see that anybody’s proved the orange thing, but, of course, I’d put my money on the fruit’s having come first. My dictionary [Amer Heritage, 2nd Coll Ed, 1982] says etymologically:

[ME < OFr. < Ar. naranj < Pers. narang < Skt. narangah], where all the first 'a’s have macrons and the ‘h’ has a dot under it (to show voicing?).

The above, however, doesn’t actually specify whether the various words were used for the fruit, the color or both.


But can you eat it (assuming you’re not a bookworm)? (Doesn’t even seem to help you “deduct” ‘etymology’ is different from “entemology”/‘entomology’. OK, so there’re bugs in your keyboard.).


Probably because the Irish just plain don’t wanta see any Orangemen around.


I once send a limerick in to a Web page that used rhymes for ‘orange’. I can’t find it now, but this guy stole one of my rhyming word combos for his very sad limerick:

This was supposed to be, of course:

‘But can’t you eat it. . .’


Strike that last post of mine. (Not sure what I ate. . .drank or snorted.)


The House of Orange, of William of Orange fame, is named for the city in Southern France I believe. I would assume that the area got its name because they grew oranges in that part of France (it’s near the Mediterranean.)

The counts of Nassau-Dillenburg aquired the area of SE France known as the principality of Orange when Hendrik III married Claudia of Chalon and Orange in 1515. The Nassau counts had previously aquired land in the area now known as the Netherlands by marriage in about 1400. The lands in France were subsequently lost, but the name remained. :slight_smile:

Orangemen are bui: in Irish, as is the ‘tan’ of the Black and Tans. Of course, the ‘Orange’ is from King Billy (William of Nassau).

If you find that reference again, rjk, I’d really like to see it.

The American Heritage Dictionary’s IE roots are quite reliable–I know the linguist who actually did the work, as well as the one whose name is on it.

I wasn’t part of that discussion, but Martin Gardner says:

This is in the article “Mathematics and the Folkways” in Gardner’s collection of essays The Night Is Large.