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From New Latin penumbra.



penumbrous (comparative more penumbrous, superlative most penumbrous)

  1. Partially shaded.
    the penumbrous calm of the cathedral interior
  2. Vague; ill-defined; unclear.
    • 1951, Reginald Hargreaves, This Happy Breed: Sidelights on Soldiers and Soldiering, page 237:
      Yet such Commissions were awarded, and far more frequently than might be supposed in view of the infinitely wider gulf—both social and educational—which divided the eighteenth-century Officer from the rank and file, than the penumbrous border line which separates them today.
    • 1961, Gerard Smith, & ‎Lottie H. Kendzierski, The philosophy of being: Metaphysics I, page 326:
      Everyone knows God in his penumbrous knowledge of common esse.
    • 1982, Open Letter, page 119:
      This is that from which metaphor springs dissatisfying, penumbrous - the silence on occult matters, or those of predestination, of genetics or environment - and the source of circumlocution, the ambiguous alchemical directives.
    • 1992, James R. Cooper, Twilight's Last Gleaming: The Price of Happiness in America, page 39:
      In the early nineteenth century, when high school and college education was a rare experience for the average American citizen, judicial determination of vague, penumbrous fundamental rights was carried out by the educated classes.