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um·​ber ˈəm-bər How to pronounce umber (audio)
: a moderate to dark yellowish brown
: a moderate brown
: 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


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


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

transitive verb

: to darken with or as if with umber

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
Painted in dusky hues of ochre, burnt umber, olive green and terracotta, the interiors change throughout the day as sunlight streams through the huge windows. Rachel Howard, Condé Nast Traveler, 3 Feb. 2024 But the sheer weight and scale of the figures’ umber and lead-white modeling banish any light humor. Julian Bell, The New York Review of Books, 26 Dec. 2023 Consider how to design and plan for winter interest, learning to savor the many hues of brown and black, copper and umber in the landscape. Benjamin Vogt, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Oct. 2023 Darker skin tones meanwhile can lean right into anything from russet tones to umber. Georgia Day, Vogue, 11 Oct. 2023 Black Flowering fountain grass grows two feet tall with dark umber plumes. Karen Hugg, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 So does fall, when the deciduous splendor of the park unveils in washes of gold, red, and umber. Tracey Minkin, Southern Living, 12 July 2023 The sun was just beginning its ascent over the Mojave, bathing the sand in a smooth umber glow beneath pockets of wispy cloud. Sammy Roth, Anchorage Daily News, 2 July 2023 The studio also made an umber of small moves. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 July 2022
Grab them in this tan shade or opt for the umber hue to best match your wild, wild wardrobe. Alyssa Brascia, Peoplemag, 9 Oct. 2023 And as early as 1617, when the teenage Velázquez painted a kitchen maid with umber skin and a white kerchief, Spain clearly had developed an art market for paintings depicting people of color. Jason Farago, New York Times, 7 Apr. 2023 Every day, the nuns swap their maroon robes for an umber brown uniform to practice Kung Fu, the ancient Chinese martial art. Sameer Yasir Saumya Khandelwal, New York Times, 23 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'umber.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1568, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1802, in the meaning defined above


1610, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of umber was in 1568

Dictionary Entries Near umber

Cite this Entry

“Umber.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: an artist's pigment that is either greenish brown or reddish brown
: a medium to dark brown or yellowish brown
umber adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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