Challenging Word of the Week: umbrageous


(um BRAY just) adj.

Umbrageous has two entirely distinct meanings. Its principal meaning is “shady,” in the sense of creating or providing shade, like the famus “…spreading chestnut tree…” (in the poem by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882) under which “…the village smithy stands…” An umbrageous tree, then, is a shade tree. But an umbrageous person (umbrageous here refers back to the word umbrage, a feeling of offense, resentment, and annoyance, usually found in the expression to take umbrage) is one quick to take offense. When umbrageousness reaches the point of mental disorder, it becomes paranoia. Umbrageous is from Latin umbratus, past participle of umbrare (to shade or overshadow), and it may be the feeling of being overshadowed that creates the umbrage. Umbrageous trees provide shade; umbrageous people feel overshadowed.

From the book, “1000 Most Challenging Words” by Norman W. Schur, ©1987 by the Ballantine Reference Library, Random House.

My example:People with umbrageous tendencies should avoid reading editorial cartoons.

I post a weekly “Challenging Words” definition to call more attention to this delightful book and to promote interesting word usage in the blogosphere. I challenge other bloggers to work the current word into a post sometime in the coming week. If you manage to do so, please leave a comment or a link to where I can find it.

3 thoughts on “Challenging Word of the Week: umbrageous

  1. I tried coining the word “umbrageur” to describe Michael Moore, but it didn’t catch on. If there’s such a thing as an arbitrageur, and such a thing as a saboteur, then there should be an umbrageur.

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    In honor of St. Valentine, and instead of buying carnations and cheap chocolates for everyone, I thought I’d just show a little “linky love,” as they say in the blogosphere. Some links from the best bloggers around. Muzzy’s got the…

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