Orange (n.)(a.) - Which came first the color or the fruit?

Orange (n.)(a.) - Which came first the color or the fruit?

The word orange... It’s kinda one of the those chicken and the egg questions. Which had the name first the color, or the fruit?  Let’s take a look.

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Definition

Orange

Noun
The round juicy citrus fruit of a leathery-leaved evergreen tree usually with a reddish-yellowish skin.

Adjective
A reddish-yellowish color the same as the peel of a ripe orange fruit.

History & Etymology

In southern China and northeastern india farmers began cultivating orchards of a small citrus fruit, we call Oranges today. The crop spread throughout Asia, and was eventually brought by the Moors to Al-Andalus, the modern region of Spain known as Andalusia. The Moors mainly spoke an Arabic language and referred to these Orange fruits by the Arabic word nāranj, which was derived from the Sanskrit word for “orange tree” nāraṅga.

When the speakers of Old Provencal, a predecessor of the Catalan language spoken in modern Catalonia, encountered this fruit they adopted the word they heard people using to refer to it. But what they heard wasn’t nāranj it was probably something closer to une nāranj, which means something similar to an orange in English. When a language is spoken it doesn’t always have those convenient spaces to show us where words begin and end, and when the indefinite article une ends with a n sound and a new word you’ve never heard before begins with an n sound, it’s not unreasonable for those sounds to blend together.

This blending can cause what’s called rebracketing, resegmentation or juncture loss. The n sound of une absorbed the n sound from the beginning of nāranj, and thus the Old Provencal word auranja was born. As this orange colored fruit made its way north through France, Old French adopted the word as orenge.

The first recorded use of the word orange in English was in 1214 from the Old French phrase pomme d’orenge, a dish where pork is cooked to have the color of oranges that was favored by the Anglo-Normans ruling the country at the time. At this time in English the word for the color orange was saffron, but as familiarity with the brightly colored citrus fruit grew throughout the country the word was adopted to mean the color as well as the fruit. The Oxford English Dictionary places the first written use of the word orange to reference the color in the private will of someone Hugo Cater in 1512.

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