um·​ber | \ ˈəm-bər How to pronounce umber (audio) \

Definition of umber

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a moderate to dark yellowish brown
b : a moderate brown
2 : a brown earth that is darker in color than ocher and sienna because of its content of manganese and iron oxides and is highly valued as a permanent pigment either in the raw or burnt state



Definition of umber (Entry 2 of 3)

: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of umber specifically : of the color of umber


umbered; umbering\ ˈəm-​b(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce umbering (audio) \

Definition of umber (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to darken with or as if with umber

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

The mineral deposits of Italy provided sources of a number of natural pigments, among them umber. Since the late Renaissance, umber has been in great demand as a coloring agent. When crushed and mixed with paint, it produces an olive color known as raw umber; when crushed and burnt, it produces a darker tone known as burnt umber.

Examples of umber in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Diablo,’ or ninebark, its green-umber foliage a stand-in for the painting’s landscape. Lindsey Taylor, WSJ, "If the ‘Mona Lisa’ Were Made of Flowers...," 7 Aug. 2018 This has allowed the public to witness the umber-haired, fresh-faced beauty's affinity for stylish dresses, and to learn of her gender equity work with the United Nations. Samantha Willis, Glamour, "Why Do We See so Much of Ourselves in Meghan Markle?," 18 May 2018 Shortly after 8, Varsano pressed some buttons in an app on his phone to raise the shades, and the showroom’s gray-and-blue interior flooded with rare London sun, mottled with umber from a hurricane bound for Ireland. Gideon Lewis-kraus, New York Times, "Selling Airborne Opulence to the Upper Upper Upper Class," 23 Jan. 2018 Wide swatches of umber dirt — fire breaks bulldozed through fields and woods, to cordon the flames off — scar the countryside. Eric Asimov, New York Times, "Wildfires Spared the Vineyards, but the Wines Could Suffer," 20 Oct. 2017 The last time a yellowish color got the bum’s rush was in 1990, when maize, lemon yellow and orange yellow all went down for the count (along with duds such as raw umber and violet blue). Joe Queenan, WSJ, "A Sensitivity Agenda for Hidebound Toy Makers," 6 Apr. 2017 Reflecting Yuki’s artistic sensibility, each chapter narrated from her perspective begins with a description of an exotic shade of pigment — carmine, raw umber, quinacridone gold — selected to correspond to its mood. Namara Smith, New York Times, "A Japanese Woman’s Life in Art, Made in the Village," 10 Mar. 2017 Some, of night skies, embed white dots, for stars, in glazes of a dense black, with subliminal admixtures of, Celmins recently told me, ultramarine, raw umber, and ochre. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Beautiful and the Unexpected," 27 Feb. 2017 Many of the sculptures bear the colors that match their counterparts in the natural world, mostly subdued umbers and rusts, creams and taupes. Leah Ollman,, "Are those real seashells? Photos? Paintings? In artist Mark Roeder's show, the answer is none of the above," 5 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'umber.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of umber


1568, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1802, in the meaning defined above


1610, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for umber


probably from obsolete English, shade, color, from Middle English ombre, umbre shade, shadow, from Anglo-French, from Latin umbra — more at umbrage

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about umber

Statistics for umber

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for umber

The first known use of umber was in 1568

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for umber



English Language Learners Definition of umber

: a dark, yellowish brown color

More from Merriam-Webster on umber

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with umber

Comments on umber

What made you want to look up umber? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!