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From Ancient Greek ὀμφαλός (omphalós, navel). Doublet of navel.



omphalos (plural omphaloi)

  1. An ancient religious stone artifact, or baetylus, used to denote the direction of the "center" of the world.
  2. The theological proposition that the world was created with certain indicia of a history which had not actually occurred (such as the humans who had never been connected to umbilical cords being created with navels).
  3. The navel.
  4. A raised central point; a boss.
  5. The center or hub.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, page 17:
      —Rather bleak in wintertime, I should say. Martello you call it? —Billy Pitt had them built, Buck Mulligan said, when the French were on the sea. But ours is the omphalos.
    • 2014, T.C. Boyle, The Collected Stories Of T.Coraghessan Boyle:
      Here I was, embosomed in the very nave, the very omphalos of furtive femininity—a prize patron of the women's restaurant, a member, privy to its innermost secrets.
    • 2015, Glanville Downey, History of Antioch, page 183:
      The place in which this statue stood, Malalas writes, was called “the omphalos of the city.”


  1. ^ “omphalos”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.