The word “orange” is interesting because of its double meaning. Orange, obviously, can relate to the color the fruit, but orange is also the color of the orange fruit. So, we can ask ourselves, which came first? Was the fruit named after the color, or the color named after the fruit?
This debacle is not as complicated as the classic chicken and egg debate; we can look back in history and actually see exactly which one happened first.
If we follow the etymological (study of the history of words) trail, we are able to see definitively that orange the fruit outdates orange the color by at least 300 years.
In the 13th century, Anglo manuscript was the first instance in which orange the fruit occurred as “pume orange’ (this is a derivative of the French “pomme d’orenge”. However, the first use of orange as a color isn’t found until the 16th century.
Interestingly enough, if it weren’t for the fruit orange, we probably would not call the color “orange” by the name of “orange”. The more probable and likely outcome of what we would potentially call orange the color if orange the fruit had not existed would be “geoluread”, which means “yellow-red” in Old English.
Another interesting fact about the word “orange” is that is it widely understood that there is no word in the English language that rhymes with “orange”, making it an interesting choice for a play on words in poems and songs.