Etymology of Penumbra

862 Words4 Pages
Jose-Antonio Gomez Period#6 Brit Lit. Word Study Etymology: Penumbra In our modern day language, the word Penumbra has one basic definition, a partial shadow or something that is unclear or uncertain. It is mostly used in astronomical terminology. However there is history to this word and so, its etymology. Let us take a look at the history, penumbra originates or first appears in the English language around the year 1665, mention in one of the hypothesis’s of Kepler. Hence why the word has its primary roots in astronomy. Penumbra meaning did not change in correspond ness to the time period it was used in, but more into the subject matter. In short, the meaning was not restricted to astronomy, but also the arts such as painting, drawing and even the legal system, including some extended uses. A few examples other than Kepler include Whitaker’s Almanac: Eclipses 1885, Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia 1992, several others as well but they all involve the same principle and background. The primary definition has been used since it was first introduced in 1665 and has remained the same even today. However in 1763, the meaning was tweaked to some degree. Astronomy was still the subject matter, but the meaning became more specific than simply a shadow. The definition now was the lighter region of a sunspot, encompassing an umbra or a black circle surrounding the sunspot. Uses of the new meaning appear in Philos.Mag.1801, Guillemin, Heavens 1868, etc, almost as commonly used as the first meaning. This version of the definition has also remained in use today. Penumbra as mention before has been used in art to describe certain aspects of drawings and paintings alike. Being introduced in 1826, one of its new meanings was now used to describe the area where shade blends with light or in simpler terms, a shadowy area, and dark so to speak. It became part of the

More about Etymology of Penumbra

Open Document