Trivia buffs, pay close attention. The next time someone throws an interesting factoid your way, throw this one right back at them.
Which came first: Orange the fruit, or orange the color?
While the original fruit is native to China, it’s name has passed through several iterations before landing firmly in the English language as the noun we know today. After passing through Sanskrit, Persian, and Arabic, the term landed in Spain by way of Arab traders. In Arabic the fruit was known as narānj. The Spanish iteration of the term for the fruit was neutralized as naranja, and as the fruit made it’s way north into France its French iteration became orenge and eventually orange. It is believed the final term was influenced by the name of the southeastern French town of Orange, which became a hub for the fruit’s trade. The first known recording of orange dates back to the 1280s.
As for the color? The use of orange as an adjective was first recorded in the 16th century. Prior to orange entering the English language, the color was described as ġeolurēad (yellow-red) in Middle and Old English.
Suffice it to say: The fruit came first!
Another fun fact: Sweet oranges (as opposed to bitter Seville oranges) were first introduced to Britain in the 17th century, and they were a “fashionable refreshment” at the theater throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Oh, how times have changed!