Jan 11

Throwing shade since the 1600s

I recently learned an awesome (if you’re a word nerd) bit of trivia. I was looking up “umbrage” for reasons that I’ve now forgotten, and discovered that its original meaning was “shadow” (as from a parasol or umbrella). To quote the Oxford Dictionaries, the etymology of the word is:

Late Middle English (sense 2): from Old French, from Latin umbra ‘shadow’. An early sense was ‘shadowy outline’, giving rise to ‘ground for suspicion’, whence the current notion of ‘offence’.

So umbrage has been…wait for it…throwing shade since the 17th century. English — what a beautiful language. (More here.)

1 comment

    • Jeremy on July 29, 2017 at 5:06 PM
    • Reply

    I wonder if Rowling knew that when she named Dolores Umbridge. She certainly threw a shawdow over Hogwarts.

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