Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Dave from Traverse City asked about the word umbrage.  It’s the emotion that erupts when someone feels offended, aggrieved, or insulted. It often appears in the form, “I take umbrage at that.”

It comes from the Latin umbra, a shadow. When you take umbrage, you feel that you have been thrust into a dark, brooding area, away from the sunny and the bright. It acquired that meaning sometime around the late 17th century. Earlier in English, it was the shadow cast by trees or the foliage that blocked sunlight.

The Latin umbra is found in a number of English words, of which the following are a sample.

·      adumbrate: (1) to foreshadow; (2) to describe or state.

·      penumbra: the shadow cast by the moon on the earth in a solar eclipse, or by the earth on the moon in a lunar eclipse, resulting in an area that experiences only a partial eclipse.

·      umbrella: a shade supported by a central pole used to block hot sunshine or to shelter the holder from rain.

·      umbriferous: affording shade.

·      umbriphilous: loving shade.

·      umbriphobic: disliking shade.

·      umbrose: (1) giving shade; (2) dusky in color.

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