Otherworldly Words: Umbrage

To take umbrage is to feel shadowed. Think of the words umbra and penumbra—all from the Latin root for shade or shadow. It’s not uncommon to say that we feel “overshadowed” by someone. Umbra is the fancy-schmacy way of saying it. 🙂

What is brilliant (pardon the pun) about this word is that it also refers to the feeling that gnaws at us that something is wrong; that shadow of a doubt.

Our shadow is a constant companion and often has been seen as a reflection of our darker nature, in fiction and film, especially film noir and German Expressionism.

Here is a use of umbra from my short story “Oblivion” available on this site:

“A sour laugh burst from his lips.  It was terrible to be the last to go.  The first never knew what happened, never had time to think about their mistakes and introspect, never had to watch as the world faded away beneath some malevolent umbra, scooting across the globe like the moon in front of the sun.”


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