See also: navel gazing

English edit

Etymology edit

Calque of Ancient Greek ὀμφαλοσκοπία (omphaloskopía). By surface analysis, navel +‎ gazing.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

navel-gazing (countable and uncountable, plural navel-gazings)

  1. Contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation.
    Synonyms: navel-watching, omphaloskepsis
    • 2018, Leah Weiss, “Introduction”, in How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind, New York, N.Y.: Harper Wave, HarperCollins, →ISBN:
      Forget incense and the lotus position, forget notions of "getting rid of thoughts" or "navel gazing," meditation is, more broadly and more helpfully for most people, getting to know our minds and hearts.
  2. (derogatory) Excessive focus on oneself; self-indulgent introspection. [from 1950s]
    Synonyms: (figuratively) navel-watching, omphaloskepsis
    • 1971 January 18, John Simon, “Winters’ Tales”, in Clay S[chuette] Felker, editor, New York, volume 3, number 3, New York, N.Y.: NYM Corporation, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 48, column 2:
      To whom, except to the author, could these narcissistic navel-gazings be of interest?
    • 1980 November 4, Barry Edward Brill, “Privileges Committee Report”, in Parliamentary Debates (Hansard): Second Session, Thirty-ninth Parliament (House of Representatives), volume 434, Wellington: P. D. Hasselberg, government printer, published 1981, →OCLC, page 4681:
      I believe that the Opposition, devoid of any argument of any weight in the debate, determined to have Parliament engage in a trivial navel-gazing exercise regarding who said what to whom, rather than to focus on the issue of whether or not members accept the sworn evidence of an honourable member of the House.
    • 1989, Malcolm Ashmore, “An Encyclopedia of Reflexivity and Knowledge”, in The Reflexive Thesis: Wrighting Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, Chicago, Ill., London: University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 78:
      [Alvin Ward] Gouldner goes further in his reply to his critics (1974), who predictably accused him of (advocating) narcissicism, pathological navel-gazing, egoistic subjectivism and the rest. In response, he writes: “The ridicule of ‘navel-gazing’ expresses an uneasiness with all efforts at self-knowing and self-reflection. It is false consciousness’s effort to protect itself from change” (1973:124).
    • 2014, Stephen Quirke, “Translation Choices across Five Thousand Years: Egyptian, Greek and Arabic Libraries in a Land of Many Languages”, in Theo Hermans, editor, Translating Others, volume II, Abingdon, Oxon., New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, part 4 (Memory and Emergence), page 280:
      There is a final, internal aesthetic twist to these navel-gazings: translation is an enjoyable occupation.
  3. (sometimes derogatory) (Disproportionate) concentration on a single issue.
    • 1993, Fen Osler Hampson, Christopher J. Maule, “Global Jeopardy”, in Christopher J. Maule, Fen Osler Hampson, editors, Global Jeopardy: Canada among Nations 1993–94 (Carleton Public Policy Series; 12), Ottawa, Ont.: Carleton University Press, →ISBN, →ISSN, page 8:
      In spite of efforts by the government to focus public attention on the economy and to turn Canadians away from constitutional navel gazing to the outward challenges of the global economy, it was the election of Bill Clinton to the American presidency that set the mood for political change at home.

Alternative forms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Verb edit


  1. present participle and gerund of navel-gaze

Further reading edit