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A shadow is always darker inside than on the periphery. That is, the umbra looks more sinister than the penumbra.

When I give umbrage to someone, I give him a shadow on his previously-beaming face, that is, I make him upset and angry. Of course, I succeed only because the other person does take umbrage at my remarks.

This root comes from the IE root andho-, meaning ‘blind, dark.’ So, our words andha and andhera are cousins of umbra.


IE  nekw-t- night

The Sanskrit word for night is nakti. Nakshatra, meaning a star or a constellation, is probably derived from here.


The word ‘night’ too developed from nekw-t-. And, night is black. The Latin word niger, a sibling of ‘night’, means black. That is why, black-skinned people were called ‘Negroes’ (the term is now archaicand has been replaced by the word Black in almost contexts). The word denigrate is also from niger.

The Latin word for night is nox (noct-) and is found in nocturnal and equinox.


Umbra: (n) the darkest part of a shadow.

: (adj) evil or threatening

Origin: a sinister, on the left hand => ‘unfavorable.’

: (n) the semi-dark region of a shadow that surrounds the umbra.

Origin: L pen-, almost + umbra => ‘almost shaded’

(n) anger; offence; sense of injury, insult or being overshadowed.

  • The Prime Minister of Pakistan had come to India for a much-vaunted four-day ‘Peace Parley’. But on the second day, he took sudden umbrage and walked out of a joint conference with India’s Prime Minister and immediately went back to Islamabad. It was a diplomatic scandal!
  • Define parley, parliament, unparliamentary, parlor, all in 1 sentence each.

Denigrate: (v) to belittle, defame or blacken.

Origin: a de-, intensive + negate to blacken.

  • The arrogant husband denigrated his stay-at-home wife’s role in the family by saying that even a servant could do all that she did.
  • Her colleagues denigrated her character by saying that she had slept with the boss to get the promotion.

Nocturnal: (adj) related to night; active in night.

  • A chaukidaar keeps nocturnal vigil.
  • The owl is a nocturnal bird.

Equinox: (n) the time of the year when night and day are of equal length.

Origin: a aequus, equal + nox, night ‘equality of night (and day )’ compare with solstice.

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