Today's Word "Omphalos"

A central or focal point on

Published in Vocabulary

omphalos \AHM-feh-lehs\ (noun) - The navel (scar where the umbilical cord was attached); a central or focal point.

"The omphalos of the meeting was Peter's announcement that the accounting firm was fired and the company's finances were in the hands of his brother-in-law, the used car salesman from Podunk, Iowa."


From the Greek omphalos "navel." The Greeks believed that the Omphalos in the temple of Apollo at Delphi marked the exact centerpoint of the earth: its navel. The original root was probably *nobh- for, since [bh] became [v] in Germanic languages, that would explain English "navel." However, with metathesis ([n] and [o] switching places), the effect for Latin would be the umb- of "umbilicus," since before [bh] the [n] would become [m] (as in "ensure" but "embitter," "include" but "imbed"). "Oomph?" The sound emitted when someone hits you in the omphalos but etymologically no more related here than "naval jelly," the shipyard rust remover.


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