What's the difference between "umbrage", "offense" and "affront"? Is it like only the second word is now in use?

  • 1
    All three are in use currently. At least in the UK anyway.
    – Rory Alsop
    May 6, 2012 at 7:43

2 Answers 2


Don't forget affront, insult, indignity, or outrage, which all suggest provocation, impertinence, offense, rudeness.

These words express disrespect shown in a way that is, or is meant to be, galling. An affront is generally open and to the face. An insult is stronger, perhaps accompanied by more insolence of manner; it is a deeper disgrace and a greater injury to the feelings of its object. An indignity is, specifically, treatment that is unworthy — an affront, insult, injury, or outrage from which one's condition or character should have saved one: as, Zenobia was subjected to the indignity of being led in chains at Aurelian's triumph. An outrage, primarily involving the idea of violence to the person, is a wanton transgression of law or propriety in any way, the perpetration of that which is shamefully contrary to the dictates of humanity or even decency; toward a person it is a combination of insult with indignity; hence it often stands for extreme abusiveness of language. It has freedom of use sufficient to make proper such expressions as, an outrage to his feelings, an outrage to all decency.

I got this from Wordnik, which is a great resource for detecting subtle nuances and differences in the shades of meaning between similar words. My very recent answer to your other similar question already discusses the value of this resource, so I won't delve into it again here.

I hope you'll use that resource in the future when you want to know the "difference" between two or three similar words. Teach a man to fish, and he'll fish for a lifetime.

My curtness here is only because I don't want to repeat myself; please don't feel affronted, I don't mean any offense.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot again. It's like instead of giving me another cup of milk you gave me a whole cow!
    – brilliant
    May 6, 2012 at 10:09

To take umbrage is to take offence - these are equivalent in meaning (see dictionary.com)

To affront is to insult someone, so it is slightly different.

Both offence and affront have a noun form, whereas umbrage is no longer used except in the "take umbrage" form.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.