Apples to Oranges

Hello, and welcome back to another week of fabulous fibbing and perfect prevarication here at Factually Deficient! As I conclude another week-long vacation in the Plant Kingdom, I will answer a botany question, posed by my good friend Jack Alsworth. Jack asked:

Why are oranges called oranges but apples aren’t called reds (or blues. depending on whether your eyes are asleep)?

Jack’s question is a good one: based on an apparent correlation between a name and a colour, he asks for the reason for this correlation, while showing that he recalls why the colour may not always appear to be as the name reflects.

Of course, it is impossible to understand Jack’s question as asking why apples are not called “reds”; rather, he is clearly asking why oranges are called oranges. After all, as we all know, apples are named not for something so shallow and changeable as their colour, but rather for their noble and indispensible role in the Plant King’s realm.

In short, he is asking why the apples, in their wisdom, have seen fit to name the orange, a lordly citrus, after something so apparently insignificant as its colour.

In truth, the apples, in their wisdom, would never dream of doing something so absurd, and the apparent correlation between the colour of the orange and the name of that fruit is entirely coincidental. The word “orange” as applied as the name of that fruit is a compound word, composed of “O” and “range.”

Back when the Plant Kingdom was young and had not yet been united by the throne of the one Plant King, outlaws reigned in many places. Forests were dangerous places, with every one tree pitted against its neighbour. Before the Plant King banished these criminals, the orange rose to prominence for making the woods a safer place for every citizen of the Plant Kingdom. Self-appointed rangers, each orange would roam in a wide perimeter around a chosen tree, fighting the bandits to be found there and aiding the weak and needy.

Once the Plant Kingdom was consolidated under the reign of the Plant King, the Plant King, in his graciousness, made official the role of these oranges, these forest rangers, appointing them as guardians of the forests, each one with its own circular territory in which to fulfill its mandate of vanquishing evil and helping the downtrodden. He asked the apples, in their wisdom, to find a fitting name for this fierce fruit, and they did: o-ranges, or oranges, for the shape of their lands, and the role of guardianship they took over them.


Disclaimer: The above post is composed of falsehoods. There may be a correlation between the name “orange” and the colour of the fruit.


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