Etymology of Umbrella !

I accidentally stumbled upon a video that explained the etymology of the word “Umbrella”. Here is the essence of the explanation —

Most of the sources actually attribute the root of ‘umbrella’ to Latin words “umbra”/”umbel”. As quoted in the Online Etymology Dictionary

umbrella (n.) c.1600, first attested in Donne’s letters, from Italian ombrello, from Late Latin umbrella, altered (by influence of umbra) from Latin umbella “sunshade, parasol,” diminutive of umbra “shade, shadow” (see umbrage).

But there is a little more to this according to Tamil Linguist & researchers.  Interestingly , the root of this particular word is attributed to a tamil word …. that was recently popularized in a Rajini Song ! The song is ‘Vaaji Vaaji’ from Sivaji & I also vaguely recollect an interview in which Vairamuthu explained the lyrics of the songs. Anyways, the word shows up in the first lines of the song.

Poombaavaai Aambal Aambal 

Punnakayo Mouval Mouval

“Aambal” seems to be the root according to Tamil linguists. “Aambal” describes a particular type of Water Lily in Tamil.


The word must have been in use for hundreds of year, probably even dating all the way back to the Sangam period ( ~2000 years ago) . Its believed that “Aambal” gave rise to “Umbel” in Latin (coined in the 1500’s).And .. This later on served as a root for the italian ombrello & English Umbrella !

image source : picturelandstudio


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