I’ll admit, I’ve never heard this word, so looked it up to discover that it refers to an area of partial shadow, either literally or figuratively.
Some of Merriam-Webster’s definitions:
– a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light
– a surrounding or adjoining region in which something exists in a lesser degree, like a fringe
– something that covers, surrounds, or obscures, like a shroud
So it means not completely in the dark, but shadowed;
one thing or area overshadowed by another.
In that sense, we could say that 2020 was largely spent in the PENUMBRA of Covid-19. We weren’t shut down completely, but definitely our daily lives were darkened by this menace. Commerce carried on as best it could, shopping done more online now than in person.
One example given was when Europe was coming out of the Dark Ages. Columbus had proved that the Earth wasn’t flat; Galileo had invented the telescope and peered into space; superstition was slowly giving way to scientific truth. The printing press was invented and literature began to inform those who could read.
We might say “SAD” is also a sort of PENUMBRA. The shorter daylight hours in northern lands can bring on a kind of depression of spirit the medical world now calls Seasonal Affective Disorder. One wonders if Antarctic penguins are feeling sad while we here in the North are enjoying long summer days?