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Main Street Cafe With Red And Yellow Umbrellas - Northport, New York by © Sophie W. Smith

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An umbrella or parasol (also called a brolly, parapluie, rainshade, sunshade, gamp, bumbershoot, or umbrolly) is a canopy designed to protect against rain or sunlight. The word parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun; umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain. Often the difference is the material; some parasols are not waterproof. Parasols are often meant to be fixed to one point and often used with patio tables or other outdoor furniture. Umbrellas are almost exclusively hand-held portable devices; however, parasols can also be hand-held. The collapsible (or folding) umbrella originated from China,23 and had sliding levers similar to those in use today.4

The word umbrella comes from the Latin word umbra, meaning shade or shadow (the Latin word, in turn, derives from the Ancient Greek ómbros [όμβρος].) Brolly is a slang word for umbrella, used often in Britain, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Kenya. Bumbershoot is a fanciful Americanism from the late 19th century. Read more


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