So 'orange' is either can be a one- or two-syllable word, however it would incorrect to say something is "oranger". But why?

It follows the rule of being adding the comparative {-er} but it is not correct. Is it because the word orange is being taken as noun?


  • 3
    "Oranger" is a rare obsolete word that refers to a ship carrying oranges.
    – Laurel
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 4:22
  • More oranger would never be correct. Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 4:24
  • 2
    @JasonBassford Okay, but I am asking why you would use more orange and not oranger, I didn't refer to more oranger here in any context.
    – user318260
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 4:26
  • Look at the last two words of the first sentence in your question. Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 4:26
  • 1
    And how about purpler for the same reason? Marooner, scarleter ... I think yellower is the exception for existing, not oranger for not existing.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 10:51

2 Answers 2


Who says oranger is incorrect? By analogy, yellower is used. The following are examples from COCA:

1 Academic Usage

...guru throw an orange, saw it hurling towards her--impossibly far but growing larger, oranger, as if it were a Hollywood special effect. She'd seen no other..

"Confessions of a Lapsed Vegetarian," Southwest Review, Vol. 93, No. 1 (2008), pp. 123-134. Published by Sourhern Methodist University

2 Spoken Usage on PBS Newshour:

...this planet orbits a star that is cooler than our own. It's slightly oranger, so if you looked in the sky, it wouldn't appear like the...

The evidence for yellower is larger, and I include by way of analogy as another color word of two syllables

with your stuff, because this is, America is going to get browner and yellower and redder and whiter. It's always going to shift, nothing is going

The View, ABC

Beyond Smiles Dental Care Centre, Mumbai. " Asians in any case have slightly yellower teeth than westerners because of the increased pigmentation (which is why we're darker

Men's Health, magazine

...air itself was bluer than it had been that afternoon, when the light was yellower. A friend and I were sitting atop a knoll in the Brooks Range in...

American Scholar, Academic Journal

...in the face of the Cards You've Been Dealt. Dorothy's teeth seemed yellower than Helen remembered. But everything about her seemed yellow now, like the pages...

Fiction piece in the New Yorker

April's active nucleus dumped greater amounts of dust, which reflected sunlight for a yellower tail.

Astronomy magazine

weeks, growing redder in the parts of the yard where red rocks prevailed and yellower where the earth had a yellowish cast.

Smithsonian magazine

all examples from 1994 or later

  • It is often the case that adjectives ending in -ow taker the -er suffix, narrow –> narrower, hollow –> hollower, yellow – > yellower. The word orange does not, but you cite many more examples of yellower than oranger (only two examples). How come?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 7:33
  • Thank you for the excerpts of different usage of the word oranger. However, I was looking more of an answer geared towards grammatical rules.
    – user318260
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 13:23
  • @Strikers grammaticality is not determined by rules; it is determined by usage: what native speakers say and write Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 7:32

The standard rule for constructing the comparative form of adjectives is the following.

If an adjective has one syllable (monosyllabic), the suffix -er is added.
For example, red ➢ redder, pink ➢ pinker. If the word ends in -e only the letter -r is needed:
e.g., blue ➢ bluer.

If users are interested, this form is called the synthetic comparative

Adjectives that have two or more syllables (disyllabic), usually form the comparative by adding more; e.g., purple ➢ more purple, turquoise ➢ more turquoise, and indigo ➢ more indigo. In standard English, the word orange has two syllables, /ˈɒrɪn(d)ʒ/, which means the comparative form is more orange.

In linguistics, it is called the analytic comparative

I said in standard English, but there are many two-syllable words in the English language that also add the suffix -er.
For example; narrow ➢ narrower, quiet ➢ quieter, simple ➢ simpler, and orange ➢ oranger.

Wiktionary lists the comparative form oranger and defines it as

comparative form of orange: more orange

Therefore the superlative can be either orangest or most orange. However, in more formal writing, I would recommend the OP use the latter.

Online I found the following examples of oranger

  • (a). No. 1 is redder than no.2, though both are sort of orange.
    (b). 2 is oranger than no. 1, though both are sort of red.

  • For Bronnenkant, "A is always yellow, but Y is an oranger yellow.

  • It turned out to kinda be like egg tart (only the eggy bit) but mucho sweeter and kinda oranger.
  • The buckwheat is oranger than ever. You can see the shiny tin roof of Henny's shack below us, all rosy.
  • “Well, your hair's oranger than an orange. You glow like a neon sign.”

As to why, @Shoe cites the following excerpt from Pratical English Usage (p114) by Michael Swan, in their answer

With many two-syllable adjectives (e.g. polite, common) -er/-est and more/most are both possible. With others (including adjectives ending in -ing, -ed, -ful, and -less), only more/most is possible. In general, the structure with more/most is becoming more common.

For more examples of disyllabic adjectives that take the suffix -er, see this old question of mine: Conundrum: "cleverer" or "more clever", "simpler" or "more simple" etc

Meaning and Grammar: An Introduction to Semantics
Leaping Man Hill by Carol Emshwiller
The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley by Betty Dravis
How speakers select synthetic and analytic forms of English comparatives: An experimental study by Naomi Enzinna
The English comparative - Phonology and Usage (Stanford University)

  • Hi, thank you for your response. However it seems to believe that "orange" is one of words in which the it is both as a noun and adjective, and because the superlative can only be added to adjectives, "oranger" would not be allowed. Also, I know colours can also be nouns, however, you wouldn't say "I am going to eat a red", rather "I am going to eat an orange" is grammatically correct.
    – user318260
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 13:22
  • @Strikers Fist things first, the superlative of the adjective would be "most orange" or "orangest" Your question is about the word "oranger" which can either be a ship that transported oranges (an obsolete word) or the colour itself. An orange is also the name of the fruit. Red, the noun, is an informal term that refers to someone from the Communist party or someone who supports Manchester United. "C'mon you Reds!"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 13:42
  • Sorry, I meant the comparative. Also, "Reds" is just slang, and not grammatically correct (correct me if I am wrong). Thanks.
    – user318260
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 15:15
  • @Strikers I'm afraid you are mistaken. Reds may be slang but slang does not mean something is ungrammatical. See the thousands of instances of "C'mon you Reds" on Google. Look up the term, red (noun), in any good online dictionary.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 15:23
  • This is an informative and comprehensive answer. Good on you, @Mari-LouA!
    – user305707
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 6:22

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