In a word: umbrageous

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 


Literal words take on metaphorical meanings as people use them, and today we take a fine example out of the shadows. 

Umbrageous (pronounced um-BRAY-jus) meant "shady," "shaded by trees," back in the day. (The day was the 1580s.) English lifted it from the French ombrageux, deriving ultimately from the Latin umbra, "shadow." 

But by the seventeenth century it had taken on the meaning it most commonly conveys today: "suspicious," "jealous," "quick to take offense," just as umbrage has moved in tandem from "shadow" to "offense."  

The "shaded" sense survives as well, but more commonly in literary contexts or nature writing. You are more likely to apply it to certain colleagues than to bosky dells. 

Example: From a 2005 article in Time: Voters are urged, for instance, to pick List No. 169, the one approved by the umbrageous Grand Ayatullah Ali Husaini Sistani."

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