um·​brage ˈəm-brij How to pronounce umbrage (audio)
: a feeling of pique or resentment at some often fancied slight or insult
took umbrage at the speaker's remarks
: shady branches : foliage
: an indistinct indication : vague suggestion : hint
: a reason for doubt : suspicion

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Did you know?

Umbrage is a word born in the shadows. Its ultimate source (and that of umbrella) is Latin umbra, meaning “shade, shadow,” and when it was first used in the 15th century it referred to exactly that. But figurative use followed relatively quickly. Shakespeare wrote of Hamlet that "his semblable is his mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more,” and by the 17th century this meaning of “vague suggestion; hint,” had been joined by other uses, including the “feeling of resentment or offense” heard today in such sentences as “many took umbrage at the speaker’s tasteless jokes.” The word’s early literal use is not often encountered, though it does live on in literature: for example, in her 1849 novel, Charlotte Brontë describes how the titular Shirley would relax “at the foot of some tree of friendly umbrage.”

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Choose the Right Synonym for umbrage

offense, resentment, umbrage, pique, dudgeon, huff mean an emotional response to or an emotional state resulting from a slight or indignity.

offense implies hurt displeasure.

takes deep offense at racial slurs

resentment suggests lasting indignation or ill will.

harbored a lifelong resentment of his brother

umbrage may suggest hurt pride, resentment, or suspicion of another's motives.

took umbrage at the offer of advice

pique applies to a transient feeling of wounded vanity.

in a pique I foolishly declined the invitation

dudgeon suggests an angry fit of indignation.

stormed out of the meeting in high dudgeon

huff implies a peevish short-lived spell of anger usually at a petty cause.

in a huff he slammed the door

Example Sentences

took umbrage at the slightest suggestion of disrespect
Recent Examples on the Web Though this wasn’t the first time Lamont had rewritten his track record on taxes, Democrats bristled at Stefanowski taking umbrage. Keith M. Phaneuf, Hartford Courant, 10 Sep. 2022 Bowers took umbrage with this recollection of events in the statement posted on BLM’s site. Michelle Watson, CNN, 4 Sep. 2022 In their Wednesday response, Trump's team took umbrage at the government's approach but did not directly address that narrative of resistance and shifting statements on the documents. Katherine Faulders, ABC News, 1 Sep. 2022 At the time, Green was working on his team’s broadcast while sidelined, taking umbrage with McGruder getting into a postgame scrap with the Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson. Ira Winderman,, 23 Nov. 2021 Unions and others speaking for police officers are taking umbrage as some U.S. cities and counties enact vaccine mandates for government employees. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 8 Nov. 2021 The First World War was not long in the past, and some rabid patriots took umbrage at the idea of a German-speaking filmmaker working in Hollywood. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 8 Aug. 2022 Biden, once López Obrador finished, reminded him that America’s economy is the fastest growing in the world, while showing no umbrage and restating his respect for Mexico and its leader. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2022 Back in the courtroom, Barany took immediate umbrage at the lawyers’ requests. Bryce Covert, The New Republic, 5 July 2022 See More

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

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Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin umbraticum, neuter of umbraticus of shade, from umbratus, past participle of umbrare to shade, from umbra shade, shadow; akin to Lithuanian unksmė shadow

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of umbrage was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near umbrage

Cite this Entry

“Umbrage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2022

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