When you eat an orange without a knife, you break it into...


Senior Member
Hi there,

When you peel an orange and then break it apart (does that sound right?) into pieces, what are those pieces called? They are not slices (I checked), because slices imply cutting.

Thank you!
  • You're correct that "slice" implies cutting, but we do call the pieces orange slices. There is even an orange-flavored candy in the US that we call "orange slices". I can't think of any other term. Maybe someone in another part of the US or Britain calls them something else.
    If you cut an orange with a knife, the pieces may or may not correspond with the segments, so we call them slices. But the natural division is the segment.
    Yes Boreen, we have "orange slices" in GB too.
    Segments! Would have never guessed :D Thank you, owlman5 and PaulQ! boreen, so you say slices could work too . . . Thank you!
    Edit: Thanks, Einstein!
    I would say "segments" or "sections," but never "slices" (unless a knife was used to cut the slices, which makes a slightly different shape).
    Segment (or section) is the usual name for these portions of an orange (and similar fruits).

    Beware of using this term in the presence of a geometer, however. To a geometer, a segment is a part of a sphere defined by two parallel planes (in other words, what we would normally call a slice.

    What we call a segment of an orange is properly (geometrically) called a spherical wedge or ungula. (You may now safely forget these terms, unless you plan to spend a lot of time with geometers.)

    Note that both section and segment derive from the Latin word for "cut" which is counterintuitive, as these sections are specifically pulled apart rather than cut.
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    Susanna's specific question was about eating an orange without a knife - peeling it and then breaking it into pieces. Under those circumstances, "segments" or "sections" work just fine, but I agree that some people might say "slice" even though a knife isn't used. I'd almost certainly say "sections," for what that's worth.
    If I cut across a lemon, or orange (like a loaf of bread, i.e. perpendicular to the long axis) I’d call these slices.
    If I peel an orange and separate it into its ‘natural’ pieces I’d call these segments.
    (And if I cut an orange into pieces in the shape of segments but without surrounding membranes, I’d call these wedges.)
    Hm, I wonder if there's any geographical particularity to the pro-section faction? Indiana and Michigan (pw and Kate) would make me the outlier, but my father was from Wisconsin. Perhaps "orange sections" exist only in the Midwest US and I carry it through the paternal line.
    ^ There could be a regional bias. I'm not sure how this fits, though, because I'm originally from California - born, raised and went to school there. I moved to Indiana in my 20s. I'm not sure when I started calling them "orange sections," however.
    My parents always referred to them as slices (regardless of method used to dissect the orange) or wedges.
    I'm a product of my parents it would seem; I refer to them in the same way.

    As an aside, my dad was from the South, my mother from the Midwest and I grew up mostly in the South and overseas. It was in the latter part of my life that I moved to the Midwest. I have no idea if such things are regional; but really, most things are.
    I note that the labels on canned oranges and grapefruits all say "segments".

    I also have heard "section" used as a verb: To section a grapefruit is to take a half grapefruit (cut perpendicular to the axis) and loosen the juicy part from the surrounding membranes and pith, usually done with either a thin, curved, serrated knife, or with a special grapefruit spoon which has serrations around part of the bowl. To do it for yourself lets you get the work out of the way so you can enjoy the eating; to have it done for you is the height of luxury.
    I guess I was confused by bicontinental's description. "Supremes" are, to me, segments that have been entirely peeled with a knife, which is what this:
    pieces in the shape of segments but without surrounding membranes
    sounded like when I read it earlier.

    I agree that "slices" are ambiguous. They could be circles or geometric segments.
    I can't believe how many answers there are to this question...:eek:

    (I vote for "segments".)
    A quick look on both Amazon.com (AE) and Amazon.co.uk (BE) finds only "segments". Not a single "section" on a can label. This appears to be the industry standard term.

    I did find one place where it said "grapefruit segments/sections" in a financial report (available for the princely sum of £795 - and yes there is no decimal point in there).
    As a side note, I never eat an orange "with a knife" I generally use a fork if it's cut up.

    I think you mean "if it's not sliced" or something similar, unless you really mean that you move the orange pieces into your mouth with a knife.
    Hi sdgraham, I meant "when you [prepare to/set about to] eat an orange" :). Yes, the way I said it, it sounds as if I'm eating them the way you described.:)
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