Wednesday Wordage – Umbra


Say: Um-Brah

Sometimes we need an unnecessary and fancy word to describe the simplest of things.

Umbra is a word used to describe a shaded area and is the basis of words such as umbrella, penumbra and umbrage. It can also describe a conical shadow excluding all light from a given source and the center of sunspots (the dark spots you can see on the sun with special equipment.)

Some synonyms include: Shade, shadow, cover and adumbration.

Some antonyms include: Light and brightness


“Pulvis et umbra sumus. (We are but dust and shadow.)”

– Horace, The Odes of Horace: Biligual Edition.

“When the moon passes into the penumbra, it darkens the surface of the moon, making it look as if a ‘bite’ has been taken from the lunar surface. ‘Totality’ occurs when the moon is completely submerged in the umbra, and takes on a deep red hue.”

— Maria Rovito, The Snapper: Millersville University, April 9, 2015

6 thoughts on “Wednesday Wordage – Umbra

    1. On the Merriam-Webster website it says ‘When we say someone takes umbrage, we mean they take offense, but in times past people used the word as a synonym of shade or shadow.’ So it is more of a past relation than anything else! 🙂


      1. Ahhhh! Thank you so much for doing my homework for me! That’s an interesting aspect of language–in many dictionaries, the “archaic” meanings are still included, which is really fun for us poets, I say!

        Liked by 1 person

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