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Word of the Day
Thursday, February 21, 2013

Definitions for umber

  1. North England Dialect. shade; shadow.
  2. an earth consisting chiefly of a hydrated oxide of iron and some oxide of manganese, used in its natural state as a brown pigment (raw umber) or, after heating, as a reddish-brown pigment (burnt umber).
  3. the color of such a pigment; dark dusky brown or dark reddish brown.

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Citations for umber
"Sir," said Gouvernail, "see ye him not? I weened that ye had seen him, for yonder he hoveth under the umber of his ships, on horseback with his spear in his hand and his shield upon his shoulder." Sir Thomas Malory, Morte d'Arthur
Yet despite the scorn that often issued from Lawrence's mouth, it was in the nature of that particular shade of umber that his eyes could express a limited set of emotions: tenderness, gratitude, injury, and need. Lionel Shriver, The Post-Birthday World
Origin of umber
Beside the sense of "shade," umber more commonly describes a brown earthy pigment popular in the 1560s. The word has come full circle because the Latin root umbra refers to a "shadow" or "shade."