Definition of umbrage
- took umbrage at the speaker's remarks
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took umbrage at the slightest suggestion of disrespect
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Deare amber lockes gave umbrage to her face. This line from a poem by William Drummond, published in 1616, uses "umbrage" in its original sense of "shade or shadow," a meaning shared by its Latin source, umbra. ("Umbella," the diminutive form of umbra, means "a sunshade or parasol" in Latin and is an ancestor of our word umbrella.) Beginning in the early 17th century, "umbrage" was also used to mean "a shadowy suggestion or semblance of something," as when Shakespeare, in Hamlet, wrote, "His semblable is his mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more." In the same century, "umbrage" took on the pejorative senses "a shadow of suspicion cast on someone" and "displeasure, offense"; the latter is commonly used today in the phrases "give umbrage" or "take umbrage."
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
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