Fashionable Rainbow Umbrella 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 the 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.