The word for the color maroon comes from French marron, which referred to a different, chestnut colored brown hue, but whatever. This is from Italian marrone, from Greek maraon, which referred to a chestnut, as a food. Already an interesting semantic change, but how is that connected to maroon, "to abandon"? Well, it's not. They're homographs! The latter of the maroons (often implying being stuck on an island) also goes back to a French word marron, but it is decidedly a different word, with a much more fascinating etymology. Going backward in time, it most recently meant "to be lost", but before that it meant "a runaway slave", after "a runaway slave in the wild", after just "the wild". A lot of weird stuff to throw at you, I know, sorry! All this evolved the Taino native term simaran, for "wild". But, sheesh, there are way too many connections with maroon and color.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd