Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Color Orange

Orange You Glad We're Giving Away a Book?



by Susan Page Davis

The names of colors are some of the first words we learn. The sky is blue, the grass is green, bananas are yellow, and pumpkins are orange. But before English people knew about the fruit we call oranges, what did they call the color orange?

English-speaking people learned about the fruit around 1300 A.D., borrowing the word for it from the French for the fruit, orenge, which in turn came from the Medieval Latin “pomum de orenge.” If you trace the origin further back, you’ll eventually arrive at the Arabic word “naranj,” and beyond. However, English speakers did not use “orange” as a color word until the 1500s.  The first known documented such usage is in a will filed in 1512.

But orange things existed in their world before that. Carrots, pumpkins, apricots, various flowers, and autumn leaves are just a few. How did they designate the hue?
Saffron fibers


Most sources agree that in Britain this color was long ago known as “geoluhread,” which translate to the modern “yellow-red.” In the sixteenth century, people began using “orange” for the color. English people also knew and used the word saffron to indicate color, for the hue of the spice.

 Another word in the English language referring to the saffron color was “crog,” and orange was sometimes referred to as “geolucrog,” or “yellow-saffron.”

Sometimes things we think of as orange in hue were called red, as in the red deer or the red fox. In heraldry the word gules referred to red hues, but another word was also used for these animal fur colors: “tenné,” from which we get our



Red fox
word “tawny.” This word comes from the Old French word “tané,” which is derived from the Latin “tannare,” meaning “to tan leather.” Brown is rarely used in heraldry, but tenné, described as orange, brown or orange-tawny color, is often found in crests.

In Asia, orange is a sacred color in Hinduism and Buddhism, and holy men of these religions often wear orange garments.

In Europe, orange has become a political color, in association with the House of Orange-Nassau. This family got its name, not from the fruit, but from the name of an ancient Celtic village, “Arausio,” but over time the family of the Prince of Orange adapted that name, and also the color as part of its identity. Since the family was Protestant and sided with the Protestants in the French Wars of Religion, orange has become a color firmly associated with Protestantism.

William of Orange, who became Britain’s William III, made the color even more important and symbolic in the English-speaking countries. He defended the Protestant minority in Ireland, and the Protestants became known as Orangemen. The color is now part of Ireland’s flag. The tri-colored banner is meant to symbolize peace (white) between the Catholics (green) and Protestants (orange).


Flag of Ireland

In Africa, the Orange River in South Africa is named for the House of Orange, and the Orange Free State, an independent Boer republic in the late nineteenth century, took its name from the river. Many other uses of Orange in names and orange color in flags (usually associated with the Dutch or Protestantism) can be easily found.

Giveaway:
Leave a comment with your contact information, and you will be entered in a drawing for Susan’s new book. Her novella “Blue Moon Bride” is contained in the Old West Summer Brides collection and Twelve Brides of Summer collection. Susan will give the winner either an e-book or a paperback containing her story. The winner will be drawn June 28.



Susan Page Davis is the author of more than fifty published novels. A history major, she’s always interested in the unusual happenings of the past. Susan is a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, and also a winner of the Carol Award and the Will Rogers Medallion, and a finalist in the WILLA Awards and the More Than Magic Contest. Visit her website at: www.susanpagedavis.com .

31 comments:

  1. What a fun post. Whatever made you decide to research this? It's a kind of "well how about that" post!!

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  2. Thanks, Mary! I started thinking about it a long time ago, when I was reading about heraldry. It's something that's kicked around in my head for ages. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. That was interesting! I'm reading a book now with Saffron & spice mentioned & I pictured rusty orange but now I know..
    I enjoy listening for how people say Orange. Some leave out the 'R' & sounds like onj . Enjoyed reading today's post :)
    dkstevensne AToutlookD OtCoM

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    1. Oh, I know, Deanna! It's one of those words people love to torture. Thanks for coming by!

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  4. I never thought about the origin of colors before, so I really enjoyed reading your post. This is just another example of how historically accurate your books are.

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    1. Thanks, Sandra! It was a fun topic. My daughter and I have been calling orange things "crog" all week.

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  5. Fabulous post, Sandra. Love your delight in the details.

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    1. Thanks, Davalyn. Sometimes I think I overload on details, but they can really enhance a story.

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  6. Wonderful blog, Susan. I have never really thought about the origins of our color names. Thanks for your research!
    bettimace at gmail dot com

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    1. You're welcome, Betty! I'm still wondering why "orange" was mentioned in a 1512 will. Did some noble bequeath his orange doublet?

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  7. I've never really thought about how our color words came about. Very interesting post!

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    1. Thanks, Vickie. They say orange is the only color in or language that takes its name from an object.

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    2. Oops, I mean in OUR language. (Where's my inner editor today?)

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  8. And ORANGE is my favorite color! My h.s. colors, my college colors... I didn't know any better but to love it! There are so many GOD questions I have, to find out how everything came to be.

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    1. Hi, Melody! Most Americans associate orange with danger or adventure, I think. This makes me wonder how many other things we haven't found the perfect name for yet.

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  9. I am also one who NEVER thought about where the word "orange" originated from. There are so many interesting facts to learn in the world! Thanks for this post, Susan.

    derobin7@gmail.com

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    1. You're welcome, Donna! Glad you enjoyed it.

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  10. I just love this blog, so many things to learn! Thanks for the info on the color "orange", something I never would have thought about!
    bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net

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    1. There just had to be a way to say it, though, didn't there? I got sidetracked for a while on the "tawny" words. That was really interesting to me too. We have such a variety of descriptive words in our language!

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  11. Fascinating information! Now I want to learn more about the origins of the names of all the colors :) Thanks for the book giveaway!!!

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

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  12. Thanks for dropping in, Heidi! Another aspect of color names that intrigues me is what the different shades were called at different times in history.

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  13. Fun post! Orange doesn't describe a mood: in the pink, seeing red, feeling blue, black mood.
    tlw131 at gmail dot com

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  14. Interesting thought, Terri. Maybe you feel crog?

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  15. Such interesting information on the color orange. It was my husband's favorite color. He painted his office orange to include orange shag carpet sm. wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  16. Now, THAT's interesting, Sharon. I can't imagine working in an orange room.

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  17. How interesting! I enjoyed this fun post about the color orange and am excited about the giveaway! Thanks so much, Susan.

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

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  18. Hi, Britney! Thanks for your kind words.

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  19. Very interesting and colorful post. Thanks for the give away!

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  20. And the winner is Deanna Stevens! Thanks, everyone who came and took part.

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  21. How wonderful! I can't wait to read another one of your books!
    Thank you Susan for gifting a copy :)
    Deanna

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