noun um·brel·la \ ˌəm-ˈbre-lə , especially Southern ˈəm-ˌbre- \
|Updated on: 16 Jul 2018

Definition of umbrella

1 : a collapsible shade for protection against weather consisting of fabric stretched over hinged ribs radiating from a central pole; especially : a small one for carrying in the hand
2 : something which covers or embraces a broad range of elements or factors
  • decided to expand … by building new colleges under a federation umbrella
  • —Diane Ravitch
3 : the bell-shaped or saucer-shaped largely gelatinous structure that forms the chief part of the body of most jellyfishes
4 : something which provides protection: such as
a : defensive air cover (as over a battlefront)
b : a heavy barrage

Examples of umbrella in a Sentence

  1. The store sells Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern foods under the umbrella of international cuisine.

Recent Examples of umbrella from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of umbrella

Italian ombrella, modification of Latin umbella, diminutive of umbra




Definition of umbrella

umbrellaed; umbrellaing
: to protect, cover, or provide with an umbrella

First Known Use of umbrella


in the meaning defined above

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UMBRELLA Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of umbrella for English Language Learners

  • : a device that is used for protection from the rain and sun

  • : a group or organization that includes many smaller groups

  • : something that includes several or many different things

UMBRELLA Defined for Kids


noun um·brel·la \ ˌəm-ˈbre-lə \

Definition of umbrella for Students

: a fabric covering stretched over a circular folding frame of rods attached to a pole and used as a protection against rain or sun

History for umbrella

We most often think of an umbrella as something that protects us from the rain. However, its shade can protect us from the hot sun, too. The English word umbrella came from Italian ombrella, which itself is taken from Latin umbella, literally, “little shade.” Umbella is derived from umbra, meaning “shade” or “shadow.”

Law Dictionary


adjective um·brel·la

legal Definition of umbrella

: being or relating to a supplemental insurance policy that extends the coverage of an underlying policy on the same risk
  • an umbrella policy
  • umbrella liability insurance

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to grant as a privilege or special favor

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