navel » naval

Chiefly in:   naval(-)gazing

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • But unlike the Times, which has been engaged in a torturous exercise of naval gazing and self-flagellation, with its accustomed arrogance, since it was revealed that one of its younger reporters had committed all sorts of journalistic sins, we are doing something about it, and fast. (Lufkin Daily News, 2003/05/30)
  • Conservative naval gazing (Politics Canada, headline)
  • okay, fine - i know these are the most boring posts of all - but everyone’s guilty of using their weblog for a bit of naval-gazing here and there, including me. (link)
  • *Begin naval gazing ramble* This is a question I have been wrestleing with lately. […] *end naval gazing ramble* (link)
  • We don’t want to be dreary old fuddy-duddies whose scowled faces reveal the intensity of our negative naval-gazing. (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

| link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/04/03 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Ben Zimmer , 2005/04/03 at 6:04 am

    I’d mark this one questionable… what makes it an eggcorn rather than just a misspelling? Hard to imagine any connection to the navy!

  2. 2

    Commentary by Chris Waigl , 2005/04/03 at 9:29 am

    Since it’s being questioned, it must be questionable :) .

    Seriously, though, I wondered too, at first, but then considered that “navel”, as a word that refers to a body part, must be something children learn to write in pre-school and keep writing all through their elementary schooling. One could also think that “naval gazing” is idly contemplating the seascape instead of actively doing something about a problem.

  3. 3

    Commentary by Sally Cassil , 2005/04/06 at 11:47 pm

    The reverse error is also fairly common; my local newspaper ran a feature on a man from our town who went on to graduate from the “Navel Academy.” I don’t think it was really an eggcorn, just another testimony to the paper’s desperate need for a copy editor!

  4. 4

    Commentary by Pierre Abbat , 2005/04/09 at 3:34 am

    I’ve seen “naval oranges” at a grocery store. The naval citrus fruit is the lime.

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