Contemplating your navel

As a language expert afficionado, you get asked all sorts of odd questions.

My editor wrote to ask me a vital question: What do we call that stuff that collects in the filter of a clothes dryer? I immediately told her the exact scientific word: fluff.

She then mailed me back and wanted to know what you call the stuff that collects in your belly button.

I know, I know… my day is filled with tasks of startling importance!

Naturally, I told her that we call this stuff ‘belly button fluff’, but then decided to dazzle her with the extent of my knowledge and let her know that the real term for these kind of ‘fluffs’ is, in fact, lint.

Yes – you get pocket lint, clothes dryer lint and – wait for it – navel lint!

I’ll wait while you applaud me for making your day.

Now, navel lint is truly fascinating to many, it seems. In fact, a Dr. Karl Kruszelniki from Australia even went as far as to delve into the in and outs (pun intended) of belly button fluff. He was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 2002 for ‘achievements that cannot or should not be repeated’.

Thanks Wikipedia for this disturbing image!

This stuff defies the laws of gravity and – contrary to popular belief – it doesn’t migrate downwards from your armpits but upwards from your underwear.

One thing I wonder though is this: if your belly button sticks out does that mean you collect less fluff than if you’re an ‘innie’ and your belly button is sunk into your tummy?

I’ll just tiptoe away now and leave you to contemplate your navel – or maybe even someone else’s!

26 responses

  1. kelli

    that image is quite disturbing….ick. I bet the hair around that belly button acts as another kind of trap for foreign objects. lol


    January 20, 2010 at 18:27

  2. yuck! I suppose: thank you for showing me this because I didn’t believe in navel lint. Never had it myself. I thought it was some sort of code word meaning something else and that I was the only one who didn’t understand.


    January 20, 2010 at 19:42

  3. Has the lint in that belly button actually contracted some fungus?! Yikes!!! Thanks for this stimulating topic!! hahahaha!!!


    January 20, 2010 at 19:44

  4. SirPe

    But the real question is: why is it always blue?


    January 20, 2010 at 20:18

  5. Can I just say: Eeeeeewwwwwwww! 🙂 after seeing that picture, I forgot what you asked….


    January 20, 2010 at 21:02

  6. I have an innie and frequently check it for loose change.


    January 20, 2010 at 21:04

  7. That picture makes me gag.


    January 20, 2010 at 21:45

  8. I hate it when people poke my belly button. It’s a weird feeling.


    January 20, 2010 at 22:35

  9. Clive

    Yuk!! Hate the stuff and have a husband who seems to collect it frequently and as Sir Pe said – why is it always blue! I could nearly divorce over this – I hate it so much!!!


    January 21, 2010 at 00:02

    • Actually, it often takes on the colour of the underwear or the towels you use to dry off after a bath or shower.


      January 21, 2010 at 06:23

  10. Love it Lady Fi. I’m contemplating my navel a lot of the time of late and enjoying the experience.
    June in Oz


    January 21, 2010 at 00:11

  11. Thank you Lady Fi – I’ve been pondering just these questions lately!


    January 21, 2010 at 00:11

  12. I want my belly button to shrink a little before ANYONE contemplates it 😉


    January 21, 2010 at 01:19

  13. so if i dont wear underwear, it has no where to migrate from?


    January 21, 2010 at 01:20

    • Well, it will probably migrate from your trousers then… as lint is, in fact, small fibers from your clothes…


      January 21, 2010 at 06:16

  14. I want your job! I want to be asked questions like this.

    But I so did not need to see that photo.


    January 21, 2010 at 02:08

  15. Jen

    You are right, that is a disturbing image, LOL, I have to scroll upwards so I don’t see it while I am writing.



    January 21, 2010 at 04:02

  16. That is one extremely icky navel.


    January 21, 2010 at 08:57

  17. Very funny post–nothing like visual er um candy.

    “Dr. Karl Kruszelniki from Australia” a name that I will be avoiding from now on.


    January 21, 2010 at 16:44

  18. Thank you for calling my stories adorable. (Flutters lashes)


    January 21, 2010 at 18:32

  19. I’ve only every called tummy button fluff – well, fluff 🙂


    January 21, 2010 at 19:56

  20. Okay In between dry wretching over the subject I will add that hairy bellied people do seem to be the collectors of Button belly fluff! *heave<chuck gag*
    I have always had a thing about it and have'nt acumualted any…..But trust me if any one has lint as that photo I would question if they wash at all!
    Lovely Morning tea time topic


    January 21, 2010 at 22:02

  21. AK! lol

    That IS a disturbing image…. good thing there is no face attached, as that person is not getting dates anytime soon!


    January 22, 2010 at 16:00

  22. Not the prettiest bunch of navel lint.. I used to have a real problem with stuff in my belly was a deep inni..and it would get wet deep down in there and get I would have to take a cotton swab and clean it out.. and then lotion it up really good! Then I had my Gall Bladder removed and they used my belly button as an enterance or exit for their button has never been the same since..but it no longer is as deep as the Grand Canyon either. Just in case you needed any more belly button need to thank me for sharing:)


    January 26, 2010 at 06:12

  23. Blue

    Hahaha…I discovered the world of fluff just a couple of years ago, thought it was a myth before that. So, I asked around at work – only to find out that only men had it. I was flabbergasted!

    But up to this day, I’ve never seen it on any of “my men”…I guess that means they are lucky, or that I’m not slutty – who hasn’t seen enough belly buttons?


    February 3, 2010 at 09:30

  24. vulcan

    The contemplation of one’s navel, by the way, is called omphaloskepsis


    June 26, 2013 at 19:51

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