um·​brage ˈəm-brij How to pronounce umbrage (audio)
: a feeling of pique or resentment at some often fancied slight or insult
took umbrage at the speaker's remarks
: shady branches : foliage
: an indistinct indication : vague suggestion : hint
: a reason for doubt : suspicion

Did you know?

Umbrage is a word born in the shadows. Its ultimate source (and that of umbrella) is Latin umbra, meaning “shade, shadow,” and when it was first used in the 15th century it referred to exactly that. But figurative use followed relatively quickly. Shakespeare wrote of Hamlet that "his semblable is his mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more,” and by the 17th century this meaning of “vague suggestion; hint,” had been joined by other uses, including the “feeling of resentment or offense” heard today in such sentences as “many took umbrage at the speaker’s tasteless jokes.” The word’s early literal use is not often encountered, though it does live on in literature: for example, in her 1849 novel, Charlotte Brontë describes how the titular Shirley would relax “at the foot of some tree of friendly umbrage.”

Choose the Right Synonym for umbrage

offense, resentment, umbrage, pique, dudgeon, huff mean an emotional response to or an emotional state resulting from a slight or indignity.

offense implies hurt displeasure.

takes deep offense at racial slurs

resentment suggests lasting indignation or ill will.

harbored a lifelong resentment of his brother

umbrage may suggest hurt pride, resentment, or suspicion of another's motives.

took umbrage at the offer of advice

pique applies to a transient feeling of wounded vanity.

in a pique I foolishly declined the invitation

dudgeon suggests an angry fit of indignation.

stormed out of the meeting in high dudgeon

huff implies a peevish short-lived spell of anger usually at a petty cause.

in a huff he slammed the door

Example Sentences

took umbrage at the slightest suggestion of disrespect
Recent Examples on the Web Kiffin then took umbrage with a local television reporter in Mississippi who reported Monday evening that Kiffin was heading to Auburn on Friday despite the job not being offered at that point. Tom Green |, al, 24 Nov. 2022 Sequeda, for one, would take umbrage at the suggestion that emerging-markets investors are predatory. Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, 27 July 2022 Sequeda, for one, would take umbrage at the suggestion that emerging-markets investors are predatory. New York Times, 27 July 2022 Several fans took umbrage with Ashford’s interception and voiced their opinion on Twitter. al, 13 Nov. 2022 Bryan Harsin took umbrage with a question asked after Auburn’s latest defensive letdown, but like the on-field product, Harsin’s defensive effort left something to be desired. Tom Green |, al, 29 Oct. 2022 This person was not the only one who took umbrage at the omission of Original Tommy’s, a local institution known for its sloppy chili cheese creations. Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2022 One Biden adviser reacted with umbrage at a private meeting with reporters this month to the suggestion that Republicans were likely to win back control of Congress. Annie Linskey And Michael Scherer, Anchorage Daily News, 28 Aug. 2022 Though this wasn’t the first time Lamont had rewritten his track record on taxes, Democrats bristled at Stefanowski taking umbrage. Keith M. Phaneuf, Hartford Courant, 10 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin umbraticum, neuter of umbraticus of shade, from umbratus, past participle of umbrare to shade, from umbra shade, shadow; akin to Lithuanian unksmė shadow

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of umbrage was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near umbrage

Cite this Entry

“Umbrage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


um·​brage ˈəm-brij How to pronounce umbrage (audio)
: resentment, offense
take umbrage at a remark

More from Merriam-Webster on umbrage

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