Did you know that orange didn’t exist until the 1500s?
Well, that’s not exactly true, that’s just when the word became part of the English language. “Orange” originally described the fruit, not the color, by the way. It came to England along a linguistic path that originated in Sanskrit as the word “naranga,” then went through Persian, Arabic, Spanish, and French before being adapted by the English as “orange.”
From Sanskrit right up through Spanish, the word was “naranja”. Now if you’re a 1500s Englishmen and you’re beholding a specimen of this citrus fruit you’d call it “a naranja,” which would eventually become streamlined to your English-speaking ears as “an aranja,” or “an orange.” So that’s why “orange” didn’t exist until the 1500s, and why nothing rhymes with it.
Well then, did this color even exist on the English palette before then?
Yes it did. The color was called, quite imaginatively, “yellow-red.”