Umbrella term

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An umbrella term is a popular metaphorical phrase that covers a wide range of concepts belonging to a common category. For example, cryptology is an umbrella term that encompasses cryptography and cryptanalysis, among other fields. Similarly, an umbrella organization is a central and coordinating body representing a number of smaller, separate bodies.

A blanket term is a closely related word or phrase that is used to describe multiple groups of related things. The degree of relation may vary or have a minimal relationship, but blanket terms often trade specificity for ease of use. In other words, a blanket term, by itself, gives little detail about the things that it describes or the relationships between them, but it is easy to say and remember. Blanket terms may originate as slang but eventually become integrated into the general vocabulary.

Examples of umbrella terms[edit]

  • In archaeology and anthropology:
    • Grave goods – The personal possessions of a deceased person.
    • Venus figurines – They extend over diverse time periods.
    • Votive deposit – They are "essentially" in every human culture/"tribe".
    • Standing stone
  • Other
    • Daltonism – various color-blindness problems.
    • Glaucoma – name for various conditions that damage the optic nerve[1]
    • Intellectual property – umbrella for certain exclusive rights in intangible things.
    • Psychokinesis – numerous alleged psychic force abilities described under this term.
    • Psychosis – describes nine distinct diagnoses.
    • Sick sinus syndrome – collection of various heart disease diagnoses typically in elderly individuals.
    • Transgender – any of numerous non-cisgender manifestations.
    • Digital marketing – marketing of products or services using digital technologies on various types of digital medium.
    • Electrical engineering – can be anything electrical related were it electronics, electrical power, computing or control etc.

Examples of blanket terms[edit]

  • Racial groupings such as white, Asian, and black
  • Other racial groupings such Germanic, Iranian (a scholarly term and not the country), Slav or Bantu (many are ethno-linguistic)
  • R&B, which may refer to rhythm and blues, contemporary R&B, black pop music, black ballads, hip hop, funk, Motown

Related terms[edit]

  • Umbrella brand
  • Umbrella fund
  • Umbrella organization
  • Umbrella school

See also[edit]

  • Collective noun
  • Family resemblance (analytic philosophy)
  • Generic antecedents
  • Vocabulary


  1. Arthur J. Sit, MD (April 23, 2006). "Many types of glaucoma, one kind of damage to optic nerve". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2015-08-18. Glaucoma is a broad term for a number of different conditions that damage the optic nerve

Further reading[edit]

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