[ney-vuh l]
See more synonyms for navel on

Origin of navel

before 900; Middle English; Old English nafela; cognate with Dutch navel, German Nabel, Old Norse nafli; akin to Sanskrit nābhīla, Latin umbilīcus, Greek omphalós
Can be confusednaval navel Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for navel

umbilical, omphalic, umbilicate

Examples from the Web for navel

Contemporary Examples of navel

Historical Examples of navel

British Dictionary definitions for navel


  1. the scar in the centre of the abdomen, usually forming a slight depression, where the umbilical cord was attachedTechnical name: umbilicus Related adjective: umbilical
  2. a central part, location, or point; middle
  3. short for navel orange

Word Origin for navel

Old English nafela; related to Old Frisian navla, Old High German nabulo (German Nabel), Latin umbilīcus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for navel

Old English nafela, nabula, from Proto-Germanic *nabalan (cf. Old Norse nafli, Danish and Swedish navle, Old Frisian navla, Middle Dutch and Dutch navel, Old High German nabalo, German Nabel), from PIE *(o)nobh- "navel" (cf. Sanskrit nabhila "navel, nave, relationship;" Avestan nafa "navel," naba-nazdishta "next of kin;" Persian naf; Latin umbilicus "navel;" Old Prussian nabis "navel;" Greek omphalos; Old Irish imbliu). For Romanic words, see umbilicus.

"Navel" words from other roots include Lithuanian bamba, Sanskrit bimba- (also "disk, sphere"), Greek bembix, literally "whirlpool." Old Church Slavonic papuku, Lithuanian pumpuras are originally "bud." Considered a feminine sexual center since ancient times, and still in parts of the Middle East, India, and Japan. In medieval Europe, it was averred that "[t]he seat of wantonness in women is the navel." [Cambridge bestiary, C.U.L. ii.4.26] Words for it in most languages have a secondary sense of "center." Meaning "center or hub of a country" is attested in English from late 14c. To contemplate (one's) navel "meditate" is from 1933; hence navel-gazer (1952); cf. omphaloskepsis. Navel orange attested from 1888.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

navel in Medicine


  1. The mark on the surface of the abdomen that indicates where the umbilical cord was attached to the fetus during gestation.bellybutton umbilicus
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.