Bite-sized knowledge for the hungrily curious

Which orange was named first, the fruit or the colour?

The Answer

Fruit was first.

The answer to this question seems obvious. The fruit is called orange because the colour of the fruit is orange. Right? Nope.

When the fruit was named in the 14th century, there wasn’t a word for the colour on the spectrum between yellow and red. It was just called yellow-red. The colour was named after the fruit 2 centuries later in the 16th century.

Before orange (the fruit) made its way from China to Europe, yellow-red was called simply that: yellow-red, or even just red.

The English word ‘orange’, to describe the colour, ultimately comes from the Sanskrit term for the orange tree: nāraṅga.

The Surprising Origins of the Word Orange – Culture Trip

Why wasn’t the colour called carrot?

Carrots weren’t originally orange. They were purple, yellow or white.

In the 17th century, a strain of carrot was developed that contained higher amounts of beta carotene — the first orange carrot. Dutch carrot farmers started growing the new orange carrots in honor of William of Orange…

Why carrots are orange (and 5 non-orange carrots to grow in your garden) | TreeHugger

Why was William “of Orange”?

Let’s follow this thread one step further. Why was King William III of England called William of Orange? William was born in the Dutch Republic in 1650. His father was the “Prince of Orange” and died two week’s after William’s birth, making him the prince.

House of Orange, princely dynasty that derived its name from the medieval principality of Orange, in old Provence in southern France. The dynasty was important in the history of the Netherlands and is that nation’s royal family.

House of Orange | European dynasty | Britannica

According to Wikipedia, “The Principality of Orange took its name not from the fruit, but from a Roman-Celtic settlement on the site which was founded in 36 or 35 BC and was named Arausio, after a Celtic water god; however, the name may have been slightly altered, and the town associated with the colour, because it was on the route by which quantities of oranges were brought from southern ports such as Marseille to northern France.

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