Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Umbrage

umbrage [uhm-brij]
1    a feeling of pique or resentment at some often fancied slight or insult
2    shade or shadow, especially as cast by trees
3a   an indistinct indication : vague suggestion
3b   a reason for doubt


In an exchange related almost verbatim in episode ten of season five, one Seinfeld writer asked a Chinese postman if he knew where a nearby Chinese restaurant was, and the postman took this as a racial inference. But the writer didn’t think Chinese people knew where all the Chinese restaurants are, he thought letter-carriers knew. Such is the fractious nature of this city and its inexhaustible pool of umbrage. (Kyle Smith, How Seinfeld Mastered the Comedy Domain , National Review, July 2019)

It took many years for this umbrage at the reporting of social events to wear off and make the reporter welcome. (Julian Street, American Adventures )

As I understand from cook, m'lady, the animal appears to have taken umbrage at a lack of cordiality on the part of the cat. (P G Wodehouse, Easy Money )

It was now past five o'clock, and the umbrage of the forest added a deeper tint to the shadows of evening. (Various, The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, 1829)


early 15c., 'shadow, darkness, shade,' from Old French ombrage 'shade, shadow,' from noun use of Latin umbraticum 'of or pertaining to shade; being in retirement,' neuter of umbraticus 'of or pertaining to shade,' from umbra 'shade, shadow,' from PIE root andho- 'blind; dark' (source also of Sanskrit andha-, Avestan anda- 'blind, dark').

The English word had many figurative uses in 17c.; the one remaining, 'suspicion that one has been slighted,' is recorded by 1610s; hence phrase to take umbrage at, attested from 1670s. Perhaps the sense notion is similar to whatever inspired the modern (by 2013) slang verbal phrase throw shade '(subtly) insult (something or someone).' (Online Etymology Dictionary)

Deare amber lockes gave umbrage to her face. This line from a poem by William Drummond, published in 1616, uses 'umbrage' in its original sense of 'shade or shadow,' a meaning shared by its Latin source, umbra. ('Umbella,' the diminutive form of umbra, means 'a sunshade or parasol' in Latin and is an ancestor of our word umbrella.) Beginning in the early 17th century, 'umbrage' was also used to mean 'a shadowy suggestion or semblance of something,' as when Shakespeare, in Hamlet, wrote, 'His semblable is his mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more.' In the same century, 'umbrage' took on the pejorative senses 'a shadow of suspicion cast on someone' and 'displeasure, offense'; the latter is commonly used today in the phrases 'give umbrage' or 'take umbrage.' (Merriam-Webster)

Tags: latin, noun, old french, u, wordsmith: sallymn

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