Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Omphaloskepsis – Wacky Word Wednesday

Hi everyone. On today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world, we will contemplate our navels.  And by that, we don’t mean engaging in idle talk or thinking about unimportant things. This is serious stuff, folks!

 

 

omphaloskepsis

[om-fuh-lo-SKEP-sis]

-noun

Contemplation of one’s navel as an aid to meditation; inertia.

omphaloskepsis

Omphaloskepsis is formed from two Greek words, omphalos, “navel,” and skepsis, “examination.” Invented by English writer Aldous Huxley in 1925, Omphaloskepsis is the contemplation of one’s navel as an aid to meditation or a lack of will to move, exert or change.  It’s usually considered humorous and often used to describe someone who is self-absorbed. Today, omphaloskpesis would be the equivalent of navel-gazing, which means the activity of thinking too much or too deeply about oneself.

The Greek omphalos also gives birth to other related English words, such as omphalotomy, “the cutting of the umbilical cord,” and omphalomancy, a form of divination that used the umbilical cord of a newborn to make predictions for the future.  Even though omphaloskepsis is less than a century old, the practice of finding enlightenment in the navel goes back at least 600 years. In the 14th century, a group of Greek Christian monks called omphalopsychics gazed at their navels to induce hypnotic reverie. Living quietly on Mount Athos, these monks would go into a trance while pondering on their navels, hoping to gain insights into divine glory.

Today, naval-gazing for the purpose of enhancing your mystical experience is seldom practiced. But some modern scientists believe that the shape of one’s navel determines one’s personality as well as destiny. This theory was elucidated elaborated by Berlin psychologist Gerhard Reibmann in 2002 in his book titled Centered: Understanding Yourself through Your Navel. According to a study in 2010 by Duke University researcher Andre Bejan, the position of your belly button also helps determine how fast you run or swim.

To help you better understand today’s word, here are two examples:

  • That was no way to earn three ounces of jasmine oil, let alone to earn three years of omphaloskepsis, which was what the doctor ordered. (Wordnik)
  • I guess that makes me inconsistent, which puzzles me on days like today where I fall victim to omphaloskepsis. (Reverend Ted’s Blog)

I think we’ve done enough omphaloskpesis for today, but we hope to see you next week for another edition of Wacky Word Wednesday!

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