Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indië 275, The Hague, The Netherlands +31(0)70 365 46 77

Word of the Day: sinaasappelsap (orange juice)

Each day my breakfast consists of a bowl of muesli with low-fat milk and a glass of orange juice. It makes me feel good and healthy. And I must have millions of ‘food mates’ all over the world eating and feeling the same. Unbelievable that there were times when this kind of breakfast was, to say the least, unusual.


‘Oranges are the only fruit’ is the title of Jeanette Winterson’s novel from 1985 and its subsequent BBC series. In this novel about a girl coming to terms with her identity she discovers that there are many expressions of sexuality besides heterosexuality. All kinds of fruit. However, for this posting I’ll limit myself to the orange.

Orange is SINAASAPPEL in Dutch. Originally from the orient, the sour and bitter fruit travelled with Persians and Arabs to Sicily in the Middle Ages. In the 16th century a sweet variant was imported from China by the Portuguese. The French changed the name from later versions of ‘nâranga’ (‘sweet smelling’) to ‘orange’ and that’s why it still has this name in English. By the way, the name of the colour orange is younger than the name of the fruit.

So where does SINAASAPPEL come from? SINAASAPPEL = China’s apple. Some Dutch and particularly the Flemish also call the fruit APPELSIEN (as in the trademark). This odd inversion can be found in the Scandinavian, German and Russian languages.

If you hate the word SINAASAPPELSAP because it sounds so much like the tongue twister Mississippi, you can always order EEN JUS D’ORANGE, or in short EEN JUS, or even better EEN SJUUTJE. But in that case you should practice the /y:/-sound (as in ‘vuur’). Start with the /i:/ sound (as in ‘vier’), round your lips and Bob’s your uncle! If you’re not sure about the outcome, you know where to find us. We’d be glad to help. And we also serve free SINAASAPPELSAP.