Before the word clementine came to refer to the citrus, it was used to describe any one of the fourteen popes named Clement. It wasn't until the early twentieth century that the fruit even came into existence, when it was accidentally bred in the garden of an Algerian monastery belonging to a French missionary named Clement Rodier. Starting in 1914, clementines began to be commercially cultivated in California, and they were a massive hit. By the mid-1900s, they were widespread, and the word has exponentially increased in usage since the '60s. The name Clement means "mild in temper" and comes from the Latin word clemens, translating to "merciful" or "calm". That's thought to derive either from the Proto-Indo-European root klei, which meant "to lean", or from the reconstruction kel, which meant "to cover".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.