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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:40 pm

• omphaloskepsis •

Pronunciation: ahm-fê-lê-skep-sis • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass.

Meaning: 1. The contemplation of the navel as part of meditation. 2. Self-absorption, egocentrism. 3. Inertia, lack of activity or motivation.

Notes: A person who contemplates his or her navel is an omphaloskeptic who behaves omphaloskeptically. There is hardly a funnier part of the body than the navel, which in Greek is omphalos, and it has played a large role in humorous word formation over the centuries. Omphalomancy [ahm-fê-lah-mên-see] is the art of foretelling the future by reading the navel while an omphalopsychic is someone who induces a hypnotic state by gazing at the navel. Let's not even get into omphalic oranges.

In Play: Since few of us engage in omphaloskepsis in the literal sense of the word, let's focus on the two figurative senses, beginning with self-absorption: "General Payne lives in such a fog of omphaloskepsis he hardly knows anyone else exists." Navel contemplation also implies inactivity: "Saturdays are my days of complete omphaloskepsis; don't ask me to do anything."

Word History: The oldest form of a word for "navel" that we can reconstruct for Indo-European languages is *nobh-. With the suffix -l it would become in English exactly what we find: navel. However, with metathesis, a switching of the positions of the [n] and [o], we would get *ombh-, which would turn into the first three letters of Greek omphalos "navel". In Latin the root changed slightly, giving umbilicus "navel", a word English borrowed and modified slightly for its phrase, umbilical cord, the cord attached to the navel. (Today's Good Word resulted from a suggestion by Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira in the Alpha Agora.)
Last edited by Dr. Goodword on Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Mon Feb 27, 2006 9:50 am

Who, contrary to most Brazilians, doesn't spend his carnaval in omphaloskepsis or revelry, but in labor (but I'm not a mother!).

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Postby Apoclima » Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:43 pm

I think that omphaloskepsis is in the eye of the onlooker. It is true that I think alot of speculation and "contemplation" is a bunch of nonsense, but then we all have our own lists of important things for someone else to think about, and our own lists of things that we think are a total waste of time and thought.

'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck

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