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early 15c., from Old French auborne, from Medieval Latin alburnus "off-white, whitish," from Latin albus "white" (see alb). It came to English meaning "yellowish-white, flaxen," but shifted 16c. to "reddish-brown" under influence of Middle English brun "brown," which also changed the spelling.
city, Lee county, eastern Alabama, U.S., adjacent to Opelika, about 60 miles (100 km) northeast of Montgomery. Founded in 1836 by John Harper and settlers from Georgia, its name was inspired by the "sweet Auburn" of Oliver Goldsmith's poem The Deserted Village. Auburn University, opened as East Alabama Male College (Methodist) in 1859, is the main factor in the city's economy. The manufacture of engines, tools, and plastics is also important. Chewacla State Park and Tuskegee National Forest are southwest. A historical fair, showcasing the making of cane syrup, is held in October. The university campus is home to the Donald E. Davis Arboretum; the historic district of Loachapoka, 7 miles (11 km) west of Auburn, has several 19th-century homes. Inc. 1839. Pop. (1990) city, 33,830; Auburn-Opelika MSA, 87,146; (2000) city, 42,987; Auburn-Opelika MSA, 115,092.