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

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.”

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

Examples of umbrage in a Sentence

took umbrage at the slightest suggestion of disrespect
Recent Examples on the Web Paul and Draymond Green took umbrage with some no-calls. Danny Emerman, The Mercury News, 5 Apr. 2024 Others took umbrage at an ancient Egyptian art work depicting manual labor, which bore a caption describing how the pharaoh’s workers periodically staged strikes. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 3 Apr. 2024 But Badu took umbrage with Bey's hairstyle: long braids with colorful beads, which seemed a bit too similar to a look she's sported in the not-so-distant past. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 20 Mar. 2024 Bonta also took umbrage with the narrative that criminal justice reforms such as Proposition 47, which made thefts of less than $950 in goods a misdemeanor, have encouraged smash and grab thieves. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar. 2024 However, Pistons coach Monty Williams took umbrage with the Suns speaking out about the incident before an NBA investigation could determine what happened between Stewart and Eubanks before the game. Sean Neumann, Peoplemag, 23 Feb. 2024 The script surrounding the two autocrats’ confab is one of unity and umbrage with the West. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2023 Giamatti, for his part, takes no umbrage with coziness. Seija Rankin, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Jan. 2024 Since then, Hollywood has not produced a single film about women that’s not mired in umbrage or ineptitude. Armond White, National Review, 26 July 2023

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

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 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


um·​brage ˈəm-brij How to pronounce umbrage (audio)
: resentment, offense
take umbrage at a remark

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