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[uhm-bruh] /ˈʌm brə/
noun, plural umbras, umbrae
[uhm-bree] /ˈʌm bri/ (Show IPA)
shade; shadow.
the invariable or characteristic accompaniment or companion of a person or thing.
  1. the complete or perfect shadow of an opaque body, as a planet, where the direct light from the source of illumination is completely cut off.
    Compare penumbra (def 1a).
  2. the dark central portion of a sunspot.
    Compare penumbra (def 1b).
a phantom or shadowy apparition, as of someone or something not physically present; ghost; spectral image.
1590-1600; < Latin: shade, shadow
Related forms
umbral, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for umbra
  • Interactive exhibits allow users to get a feel for the phenomenon, such as by placing their avatars' heads in a virtual umbra.
  • In the photosphere, matter streams away from the umbra.
British Dictionary definitions for umbra


noun (pl) -brae (-briː), -bras
a region of complete shadow resulting from the total obstruction of light by an opaque object, esp the shadow cast by the moon onto the earth during a solar eclipse
the darker inner region of a sunspot
Compare penumbra
Derived Forms
umbral, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: shade, shadow
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for umbra

1590s, "phantom, ghost," a figurative use from Latin umbra "shade, shadow" (see umbrage). Astronomical sense of "shadow cast by the earth or moon during an eclipse" is first recorded 1670s. Meaning "an uninvited guest accompanying an invited one" is from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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umbra in Science
Plural umbras or umbrae (ŭm'brē)
  1. The darkest part of a shadow, especially the cone-shaped region of full shadow cast by Earth, the Moon, or another body during an eclipse. In a full lunar eclipse, which generally lasts for one or two hours, the entire disk of the Moon is darkened as it passes through the umbra. During this period the Moon takes on a faint reddish glow due to illumination by a small amount of sunlight that is refracted through the Earth's atmosphere and bent toward the darkened Moon; the reddish tint is caused by the filtering out of blue wavelengths as the sunlight passes through the Earth's atmosphere, leaving only the longer wavelengths on the red end of the spectrum. See Note at eclipse.

  2. The dark central region of a sunspot. Compare penumbra.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for umbra

that part of a shadow in which all light from a given source is excluded. The shadow from a point source of illumination is essentially all umbra, but that from a source of some size (as from the Sun) consists of a small umbra and a much larger partial shadow called the penumbra. Thus, in an eclipse of the Sun, the regions within the umbra experience a total eclipse and those within the penumbra, partial eclipse. The term is also used for the dark central portion of a sunspot.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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