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koan

[koh-ahn] /ˈkoʊ ɑn/
noun, plural koans, koan. Zen.
1.
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
1945-1950
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.
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Examples from the web for koan
  • The lack of variety in the landscape here is our koan.
British Dictionary definitions for koan

koan

/ˈkəʊæn/
noun
1.
(in Zen Buddhism) a problem or riddle that admits no logical solution
Word Origin
from Japanese
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
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Word Origin and History for koan
n.

Zen paradox, 1946, from Japanese ko "public" + an "matter for thought."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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