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See more synonyms for umber on Thesaurus.com
  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.
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  1. of the color umber.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to color with or as if with umber.
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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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for umber

Historical Examples

  • The people who live in this look as it painted in umber by old Dutch masters.

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • You could almost, under the umber silk, see the rippling of his veins.

    The Imitator

    Percival Pollard

  • The principal and most useful of these are—umber, terra di Sienna (both burnt and raw), Spanish brown, and some of the ochres.

  • They are of a grayish or buffy color spotted with umber and lilac.

    The Bird Book

    Chester A. Reed

  • The eggs are white or greenish white, specked with reddish brown and umber.

    The Bird Book

    Chester A. Reed

British Dictionary definitions for 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
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  1. of, relating to, or stained with umber
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Word Origin

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper