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).
A sunshade in the Mediterranean, a shelter from the rain in England; in late 17c. usage, usually as an Oriental or African symbol of dignity. Said to have been used by women in England from c.1700; the first rain-umbrella carried by a man there was traditionally c.1760, by Jonas Hathaway, noted traveler and philanthropist. Figurative sense of "authority, unifying quality" (usually in a phrase such as under the umbrella of) is recorded from 1948.