Saturday, October 13, 2012

umbrage (unusual usage)

Discovering an unusual definition of a relatively unused word could be an undaunting task.
Yet here it is--umbrage.  (I like the sound of that!)

Now this word is usually used to define annoyance, offense, or utter displeasure.  for example:  I took umbrage at the politician's total disregard of facts.

Here's a meaning a little less used--the vaguest feeling of suspicion or a shadowy semblance of a vague something.

"His semblable is his mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more."
~excerpt from Hamlet by Shakespeare 
☂          ☂          ☂           ☂          ☂          ☂          ☂          ☂          ☂          ☂                  

I don't mean to uproot your notions of this word, but here I will use umbrage with a more unusual meaning--shade or shadows cast by trees.  Umbra (from Latin), after all, means shade (and  umbrella is the diminutive of umbra).  This particular usage dates back to the mid1400s.  This was actually the original meaning of the word, morphing from this meaning to suspicion to offense.

The last object at which Elizabeth gazed when they renewed their journey, after their encountre with Richard, was the sun, as it expanded in the refraction of the horizon, and over whose disk the dark umbrage of a pine was stealing, while it slowly sank behind the western hills.
~ excerpt from The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper 

along a trail on Whiteside Mountain which is between Cashiers and Highland in North Carolina (early October 2012)

Often, after an active morning, she would spend a sunny afternoon in lying stirless on the turf, at the foot of some tree of friendly umbrage.
~excerpt from Shirley by Charlotte Brontë

search results for "umbrage in literature" in The Free Library 

more about Whiteside Mountain:
Blue Ridge Highlander 
Romantic Asheville

I'm linking up with my favorite teacher, Ms Jenny Matlock, as we work our way through the alphabet.  Please do go visit the other students, for you never know what gems you may find--humor, poignancy, information, visions of far away places, stuff you've never even dreamed of!  Check it out HERE.  You may even wish to join in yourself!  This week our letter is "U." 

photo by me © 2012 all rights reserved


  1. Oh I love a new use for an old word-friend. I guess I've never paid enough attention to Bronte! Anyway - I think I'll try to work this one in!

  2. That was a fun 'u' post! Love the photo too! You are so creative Margaret!

  3. I sure learned some meanings of umbrage I didn't know! The leafy steps on the wooded trail are wonderful.

  4. I love words! But then, I'm a former English teacher. I call my sweet daughter, my Word Doctor. A singer-songwriter, she makes amazing word choices for her lyrics. Cherry Kay

  5. Hahahaha! Margaret, I LOVE this post! Umbrage, indeed! Everyone should use it these days! And I love your photo as well--we've been to Cashiers and that area many times and it is sooooo lovely. Excellent writing, as always.

  6. I think I like the last meaning best...and the photo to go along :)

  7. Well, I've learned something new! I always took it to mean taking offense at something!! Love your photo!

  8. hahaha! Very fun. Alternate spellings and pronunciations are fun, too ;-)

  9. Beautiful colors in autumn landscape composition, delightful photo.

  10. Oh I like that word Umbrage, and its meaning! Beautiful photos of autumn!

  11. I didn't know the last meaning at all!

    I've never used umbrage in those terms! But I shall!

    I so prefer it! Much better to be in the shadow of trees than all this political ugliness!

    Thank you for linking.



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