koan

[koh-ahn]
noun, plural koans, koan. Zen.
a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating.
Compare mondo.


Origin:
1945–50; < Japanese kōan, earlier koũ-an < Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese gōngàn public proposal

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To koan
Collins
World English Dictionary
koan (ˈkəʊæn)
 
n
(in Zen Buddhism) a problem or riddle that admits no logical solution
 
[from Japanese]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Etymonline
Word Origin & History

koan
Zen paradox, 1946, from Jap. ko "public" + an "matter for thought."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang Dictionary

koan

/koh'an/ n. A Zen teaching riddle. Classically, koans are attractive paradoxes to be meditated on; their purpose is to help one to enlightenment by temporarily jamming normal cognitive processing so that something more interesting can happen (this practice is associated with Rinzei Zen Buddhism). Hackers are very fond of the koan form and compose their own koans for humororous and/or enlightening effect. See Some AI Koans, has the X nature, hacker humor.
Example sentences
The lack of variety in the landscape here is our koan.
Related Words
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;