An umbrella or parasol is a folding canopy supported by wooden or metal ribs, which is usually mounted on a wooden, metal, or plastic pole. It is designed to protect a person against rain or sunlight. The word "umbrella" typically refers to a device used for protection from rain. The word parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun. Often the difference is the material used for the canopy; some parasols are not waterproof. Umbrella canopies may be made of fabric or flexible plastic.
Umbrellas and parasols are primarily hand-held portable devices sized for personal use. The largest hand-portable umbrellas are golf umbrellas. Umbrellas can be divided into two categories: fully collapsible umbrellas, in which the metal pole supporting the canopy retracts, making the umbrella small enough to fit in a handbag; and non-collapsible umbrellas, in which the support pole cannot retract and only the canopy can be collapsed. Another distinction can be made between manually operated umbrellas and spring-loaded automatic umbrellas which spring open at the press of a button.