Is the colour orange named this way because of the fruit?

Orange

You surely have asked yourself this question sometime in front of a glass of juice or in front of a plate with pieces of orange. No one had a straight answer and, most probably, the whole thing ended up in a small discussion between your parents and your grandparents. Well... the next time that this happens you will be the one with an answer. Pay attention: it is just a theory, but it is starting to prevail.

Let's start with the fruit, that in the Middle Ages was considered to be something exotic, and a subject for study: thus, the philosopher and scientist Alberto Magno called it "arangus", a Latin version of the name "nãraga", that was how oranges were called in Sanskrit, an ancient language of the India (remember that oranges come originally from East Asia). From that word, "arangus", comes its name in English, French, Dutch and German. Surprisingly, the Spanish and Portuguese merchants called the fruit by its original name, which through time would turn into "naranja" and "laranja".

Very good, we now know the origin of the fruit's name. How did it turn into the colour's name? The colour already existed but, according to ancient chronicles of medieval England, it was called "geoluhread", which meant something like "yellow-red".

Both these words, "geoluhread" in English as "Amarillo-rojizo" in Spanish, were a bit complicated to say; so in the XVI century, when the "arangus" and the "nãragas" had become known throughout Europe, people decided to use their name, much more simple, to designate the colour: it probably went from "Hand me that yellow-red cape" to "Hand me that orange coloured cape", to "Hand me that orange cape".

It is quite a complicated explanation, we know... but it is the most accepted. Summing up, we could say that the colour had a far too complicated name, so people decided to call it like the fruit because it was easier. Now, it's only about what came first, the egg or the chicken. Some of our team mates are already down to research, so we will tell you all about it when we unveil the secret.


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