The FruitAmong fruits, the name “orange” refers primarily to the sweet or Chinese orange, Citrus sinensis (known in Dutch as the Chinese apple, or Sinaasappel). This was brought to Europe from the Orient in the 1400s, largely replacing the bitter or marmalade orange, Citrus aurantium, which was introduced several centuries earlier. The name is derived from Sanskrit, via the Persian narang and the Arabic naranj. Somewhere along the way, the initial consonant was lost, and “a norange” became “an orange.”
The ColourThe fruit seems to have given its name to the corresponding colour some time in the 1500s. Previously, the colour had been described in Old English as yellow-red (geolurēad). This is consistent with the theory of Brent Berlin and Paul Kay expressed in Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution, namely that languages have between 7 and 10 other basic colour words before they have “orange.” In art, the colour was obtained by mixing yellow and red, at least until orange pigments became available.
Modern orange pigment, C17H13ClN6O5
The PlaceOrange (or, in Provençal, Aurenja) is also a town in Provence. Originally the Roman settlement of Arausio (founded in 36 or 35 BC), at some point the name seems to have been linked to the fruit (and hence the colour), perhaps because oranges were grown in the region (the coat of arms includes three oranges). Under René of Châlon, the principality of Orange became linked to substantial estates in the Netherlands.
Map of Provence, showing Orange
The HouseIn 1544, William the Silent, count of Nassau, inherited the title Prince of Orange, along with the Dutch estates, and founded the House of Orange-Nassau:
Four generations of Princes of Orange, Willem van Honthorst, 1662
The FlagAs a consequence of his inheritance, William the Silent became the leader of the Dutch Revolt against Spain, and the founder of the Dutch royal house (“Een Prinse van Oranje ben ik, vrij, onverveerd”). Orange became the national colour, and orange-white-blue the colours of the national flag. Over time, the flag changed to red-white-blue (though this was not formalised until a 1937 decree by Queen Wilhelmina). The original colours survive in the flag of New York City (among others) and in art of the time:
The Noord-Nieuwland in Table Bay, 1762, anonymous artist
The FansAnd that's why Dutch soccer-players and their fans wear orange:
Dutch soccer fan clothing for sale (photo by “Vogler”)