Meaning of omphalos in English:


Pronunciation /ˈɒmfəlɒs/


  • 1literary The centre or hub of something.

    ‘this was the omphalos of confusion’
    • ‘Fast-forward to New Guinea in 1942: I had returned to Port Moresby after a stint out in the bush, with a gruesomely suppurating abscess adorning my omphalos, or the seat of my soul.’
    • ‘In New York City, Columbus Circle is the omphalos, yet no building here comes close to exalting that special point in Manhattan space.’
    • ‘When they finally get to New York, the omphalos, the imagined center of their world, Singh dupes them into signing an iniquitous contract that will make him a fortune, and Ormus and Vina slaves for the rest of their careers.’
    • ‘Heaney's father, Patrick, born in 1910, was a cattle-dealer with a forty-acre farm in Derry, situated alongside a railway, the now-famous Mossbawn, sacred omphalos of his first-born son's poetry.’
    • ‘It became the political and spiritual omphalos in which the two key moments of the last 30 political years were determined: the military campaign that internment created and the political struggle to end the war the hunger strike created.’
    centre, central point, middle, midpoint, hub, nub, focal point, focus, pivot, nucleus, heart, core, eye
  • 2(in ancient Greece) a conical stone (especially that at Delphi) representing the navel of the earth.

    ‘Above, on a terrace cut into the mountainside and supported by an unusual masonry wall, stood the temple of Apollo with, at its centre, the omphalos stone symbolically marking the centre of the earth.’
    • ‘Further legends state that the omphalos at Delphi stands upon the spot where Apollo killed the serpent Python, or upon the chasm through which the waters of Deucalion's flood drained away.’
    • ‘He goes on to explain that ‘this god is the ancestral exegete for all mankind on such matters and expounds them to them, seated on the omphalos at the centre of the earth.’
    • ‘They met at Delphi, and so it was there, in a temple to Apollo, that the Greeks set up an omphalos - that is, a holy navel-stone - guarded by two golden eagles.’
    1. 2.1A boss on an ancient Greek shield.
      • ‘To the ancient Greeks, the general notion of omphalos was fundamental.’


Greek, literally ‘navel, boss’.