(WYTV)- On a recent Daybreak, we talked about making sure to carry an umbrella that day and I blurted out an old and rare American slang term for umbrella.
I called it a bumbershoot. Where did that word come from?
The first example we see of bumbershoot appears in the Random House Historical Dictionary of the American Language, 1896.
We see some variations such as bumbersol, meaning an umbrella as a sunshade.
By the first decade of the twentieth century it had settled down to bumbershoot, an apparent combining of umbrella and parachute because an umbrella looks like a parachute. For a while we thought it was British slang, it kind of sounds British, but the Brits have never heard of it.
But it does appear in the lyric of a song Dick Van Dyke sings in a bad British accent in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:
“You can have me hat or me bumbershoot
But you’d better never bother with me ol’ bam-boo.”
These days, bumbershoot is uncommon, but it still turns up as the name of the yearly Seattle Arts Festival. It’s called the Bumbershoot because Seattle gets a good deal of rain.