Last week Dennis Preston sent me a usage query about this quotation in a Talking Points Memo posting by David Taintor on April 30th:

But the organization’s Director of Education Elokin CaPese told TIME that “If the state of Tennessee gets to create the [sex] curriculum, it has to create something that umbrella reflects everyone.”

Dennis wondered about the verbing in umbrella reflects.

Taintor’s posting links to a Time NewsFeed story by Erica Ho on April 30th, which is the apparent source of the quote from CaPese. Meanwhile, CaPese seems to provide the only source of the compound umbrella-reflect or umbrella reflect in any of its forms. This is not one of those items you come across, think it’s novel, and then discover hundreds or thousands of hits for it.

Here’s the whole context from Taintor’s piece:

You’ve heard of gateway drugs — smoking marijuana supposedly leads to harder, more addictive substances. But what about “gateway sexual activity”: the hand-holding, lip-locking and light-grazes that can lead to … other things?

The Tennessee Legislature on Friday sent a bill to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk that, according to the Tennessean, would require sex-ed classes to “exclusively and emphatically” promote abstinence and ban teachers and outside groups from promoting “gateway sexual activity.”

The bill defines “gateway sexual activity” as: “sexual conduct encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior.” The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Jim Gotto, said the bill wouldn’t address things as innocuous as holding hands, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. But critics of the legislation say the offending behavior is not clearly defined. Gotto did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.

According to the News Sentinel, groups like Planned Parenthood and others who provide sex education information in schools could face a $500 fine. Planned Parenthood did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment. But the organization’s Director of Education Elokin CaPese told TIME that “If the state of Tennessee gets to create the [sex] curriculum, it has to create something that umbrella reflects everyone.”

Given the context, it looks like umbrella-reflect has semantics combining ‘cover’ (like an umbrella) and ‘reflect’.

Umbrella certainly has been verbed on its own, with more than one sense:

Apply for Umbrella Status

Many groups who are not legally constituted need an umbrella group if they wish to apply for funding for a long term project or for funding or consents for a one off project. North Shore Community and Social Services Inc provides that function for a number of groups.


Support and advocate the goals values and interests of the groups they umbrella.

Provide the infrastructure, accountabilities, support, expertise, information, resources and guidance required.

… Encourage the group they umbrella to work as independently as possible, at all times adhering to community development principles. (link)

Complimentary additions to Rotorua’s’ grand design are the 16 serene lakes that are scattered sporadically in and around Rotorua. The native trees, bush and shrubs line most of the lakes shores, lazily stretching back as far as the eyes can see. Like guardians they umbrella the shores with pure elegance. (link)

When you search for PGCE courses, when you actually break it down, it covers PTTLS,CTTLS and DTTLS. Which is quite interesting, because, you aren’t allowed to DTTLS unless you have 2 years teaching under your belt. That was what I was told when I had just qualified with CELTA this year.   But go for the PGCE and it umbrellas them all. (link)

So my current best guess is that umbrella-reflect is a V + V compound (not the most common sort of compound), with copulative semantics. But no one seems to have thought to combine these two verbs before Elokin CaPese did so in her interview.


2 Responses to “umbrella-reflect?”

  1. swizzard Says:

    Why not treat ‘umbrella’ as an adverb, with a meaning something like ‘comprehensively’?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Not impossible, but I have no evidence of umbrella used as an adverb meaning ‘comprehensively’. On the other hand, I do have evidence of it being used as a verb, and of V + V compounds.

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