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Fall under your umbrella

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on March 09, 2010 at 19:47

In Reply to: Fall under your umbrella posted by Brian from Shawnee on March 09, 2010 at 14:49:

: : Does anyone know the original meaning to "Fall under your umbrella" as in "That should fall under your umbrella."

: Umbrella in this sense means jurisdiction or responsibility. For example in a supermarket the purveyance of vegetables might fall under the umbrella of the produce manager.

: gives the following definition for this sense: "4 : something which covers or embraces a broad range of elements or factors "

'Umbrella' here is being used in the metaphorical sense of 'Authority, protection, means of defence; controlling or unifying agency'. The Oxford English Dictionary says that this sense dates from the period immediately after World War II: the first use it cites is from the official record of British Parliamentary debates in January 1948: "Giving the smaller Powers a chance to evolve, under the umbrella of the Four Powers".

However, "Fall under your umbrella" is a nonsensical phrase, since an umbrella, whether real or metaphorical, is something designed to *stop* anything falling under it! The Parliamentary quotation above evokes the image of smaller countries being able to evolve under [the shelter of] the umbrella of the allied powers, and that's a perfectly coherent metaphor. You could reasonably say that in Brian's supermarket the purveyance of vegetables *comes* under the umbrella of the produce manager (or better, "of produce management" - "the umbrella of the produce manager" does call up an image of the man standing in the aisle with his brolly up). But things can only fall into your umbrella if you have turned it upside down (perhaps using it as a boat, like Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh); and if you have done that, it can't fulfil the function of an umbrella. (VSD)