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.

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

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World English Dictionary
koan (ˈkəʊæn)
(in Zen Buddhism) a problem or riddle that admits no logical solution
[from Japanese]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

Zen paradox, 1946, from Jap. ko "public" + an "matter for thought."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The lack of variety in the landscape here is our koan.
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