late 14c., "of the orient; from the east," from Old French oriental "eastern, from the east" (12c.) and directly from Latin orientalis "of or belonging to the east," from orientem (see orient (n.)). Originally in reference to the sky, geographical sense, often with a capital O-, is attested from late 15c.; oriental carpet is first recorded 1868 (in C.L. Eastlake). Of gems or stones, "of superior quality," late 14c.