The word for the color orange didn’t exist until the fruit permeated the food market. Then, they labeled the round fruit an orange, but still didn’t associate the label with any other objects of the same color. It wasn’t until almost the 17th century that the word even separated from the fruit to simply describe a color. Before this, the closest pigment to orange ancient societies had was a dull, rusty orange, resembling an earthy brown (Color 194).
Orange is seen as the hottest of all colors (Eiseman 27). However, stuck in between the strong colors red and yellow in the spectrum, bright orange has steered clear of any extremely positive or negative connotations.
Mystics perceive the tint of orange in a person’s aura to reveal pride and ambition. Similarly, the word for orange, “tenne,” in heraldry meant strength and endurance (Birren 173).
The modern use for vivid shades of orange because of its loudness is in situations where safety through visibility is an issue. Lifeboat rafts, traffic directors and prison uniforms are all examples of this.
In its most intense shades, orange is usually not taken seriously (aside from the above use). Marketers and designers employ the color for satirical ads or for children’s products because people’s perception of the color is usually jovial, exuberant, or for hilarity.
Birren says that orange is the color most pleasing in its tints (Birren 259). The lighter shades, such as peach, coral and melon all have more calming, pleasant connotations. Used in decorating homes and for adult clothing, the pastel oranges have acquired a more maternal quality. Darker oranges slide into the earth tones, and combine with greens to settle the mind into a safe, natural world.