Today’s Word Wednesday selection is penumbra, with an honorable mention to umbra. It’s one of many great words with scientific and literary common usages. A little about my friend (taken from the online Oxford English Dictionary):


Line breaks: pen|um¦bra
Pronunciation: /pɪˈnʌmbrə /

1the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object.

1.1 Astronomy the shadow cast by the earth or moon over an area experiencing a partial eclipse.

1.2 Astronomy the less dark outer part of a sunspot, surrounding the core.

2a peripheral or indeterminate area or group:
an immense penumbra of theory surrounds any observation

Origin – mid 17th century: modern Latin, from Latin paene ‘almost’ + umbra ‘shadow’.

How I came across this word

One Friday late last fall my husband and I had a day. I don’t know how to explain it, but it made us wonder, “What is going on today?” It turned out to be a full moon, and although there’s no real scientific proof that a full moon makes stuff happen, we laughed. Not only was it a full moon, but it turned out to be a lunar eclipse, and more specifically, a penumbral eclipse. I had to look that up because I was extremely unfocused in my college astronomy class. It was kind of a hard time for us, as it was the last excruciating stretch of a hard couple of years, employment-wise, for us. The penumbral eclipse was a sign of hope in an opaque present and a new word I began to love.

My sentence

With a solid job offer, he began to see what it would be like to live beyond the penumbra and it was a brilliant balm for a weary soul.

Now leave your sentence in the comment box below!