An umbrella or parasol (also called a brolly, parapluie, rain shade, sun shade, gamp, bumbershoot, or umbrolly) is a canopy designed to protect against rainor 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, and had sliding levers similar to those in use of today.
The word umbrella comes from the Latin word umbra, meaning shade or shadow (the Latin word, in turn, derives from the Ancient Greek ómbros) 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.
“Parasol” from “para” meaning to stop or to shield and “sol” meaning sun. The word “umbrella” evolved from the Latin “umbella” (an “umbel” is a flat-topped rounded flower) or “umbra”, meaning “shaded.”
In Britain, umbrellas are sometimes called “gamps” after the character Mrs. Gamp in the Charles Dickens novel Martin Chuzzlewit. Mrs. Gamp’s character was well known for carrying an umbrella.
In the sculptures at Nineveh the parasol appears frequently. Austen Henry Layard gives a picture of a bas-relief representing a king in his chariot, with an attendant holding a parasol over his head.