burnt umber


  1. 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).
  2. the color of such a pigment; dark dusky brown or dark reddish brown.
  3. Ichthyology. the European grayling, Thymallus thymallus.
  4. North England Dialect. shade; shadow.
  1. of the color umber.
verb (used with object)
  1. to color with or as if with umber.

Origin of umber

1250–1300; Middle English umbre, umber shade, shadow < Old French umbre < Latin umbra; in sense “earth” < French terre d'ombre or Italian terra di ombra
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of burnt umber

British Dictionary definitions for burnt umber


  1. any of various natural brown earths containing ferric oxide together with lime and oxides of aluminium, manganese, and siliconSee also burnt umber
  2. any of the dark brown to greenish-brown colours produced by this pigment
  3. short for umber moth
  4. obsolete
    1. shade or shadow
    2. any dark, dusky, or indefinite colour
  1. of, relating to, or stained with umber

Word Origin for umber

C16: from French (terre d') ombre or Italian (terra di) ombra shadow (earth), from Latin umbra shade

burnt umber

  1. a brown pigment obtained by heating umber
  2. a dark brown colour
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for burnt umber



brown earthy pigment, 1560s, from Middle French ombre (in terre d'ombre), or Italian ombra (in terra di ombra), both from either Latin umbra "shade, shadow" (see umbrage) or from Umbra, fem. of Umber "belonging to Umbria," region in central Italy from which the coloring matter first came. Burnt umber, specially prepared and redder in color, is attested from c.1650.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper