um·​bra | \ ˈəm-brə How to pronounce umbra (audio) \
plural umbras or umbrae\ ˈəm-​(ˌ)brē How to pronounce umbra (audio) , -​ˌbrī \

Definition of umbra

1a : a conical shadow excluding all light from a given source specifically : the conical part of the shadow of a celestial body excluding all light from the primary source
b : the central dark part of a sunspot
2 : a shaded area

Other Words from umbra

umbral \ ˈəm-​brəl How to pronounce umbra (audio) \ adjective

Did you know?

The Latin word umbra ("shade, shadow") has given English a range of words in addition to umbra itself. An umbrella can provide us with shade from the sun. So can an umbrageous tree. (In this case, umbrageous means "affording shade.") The connection to shade or shadow in other umbra words is less obvious. 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. These two senses of umbrage influenced umbrageous, which can mean "inclined to take offense easily" as well as "affording shade."

Examples of umbra in a Sentence

strange noises were coming from the wooded umbra beyond our campfire during a solar eclipse observers located within the umbra experience a complete blocking of the sun by the moon
Recent Examples on the Web The ending, until next time The eclipse will end when the Earth’s umbra finally leaves the lunar surface at 1:55 a.m. on the morning of May 16, and the moon will return to its full brilliance. Dean Regas, The Enquirer, 10 May 2022 The moon will leave the umbra at 12:56 a.m. on Monday. Leada Gore |, al, 8 May 2022 For East Coast observers, the partial eclipse begins shortly after 2 a.m., reaching its peak a couple of minutes after 4 a.m, with the moon's face largely masked by the umbra, the darkest part of Earth's shadow. Julia Musto, Fox News, 18 Nov. 2021 The maximum state of this lunar eclipse will hit when the Moon is in the Earth’s umbra. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 17 Nov. 2021 The penumbra is the outer edge of the Earth's shadow, lasting over six hours, and the umbra is the deepest part of the shadow, lasting 3.5 hours. Sherry Liang, CNN, 18 Nov. 2021 This is made up of the time when the Moon hits the penumbra and umbra. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 17 Nov. 2021 In a total lunar eclipse, the entire moon falls within the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, called the umbra. Rick Green,, 19 Nov. 2021 The eclipse will begin at 1:03 a.m. ET, but the dimming of the moon won't be noticeable until 2:19 a.m. ET, when the moon falls under the Earth's umbra. Sherry Liang, CNN, 18 Nov. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of umbra

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for umbra


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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Umbra.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on umbra

Britannica English: Translation of umbra for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about umbra


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