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[lah-muh] /ˈlɑ mə/
a priest or monk in Lamaism.
Origin of lama
1645-55; < Tibetan lama (spelling bla ma) literally, superior one (in Tibetan applied only to monks of high rank)
Can be confused
lama, llama. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lama
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The height of the giraffe is nearly double that of the camel, and the camel double that of the lama.

    Buffon's Natural History. Volume X (of 10) Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon
  • I asked my interpreter not to lose a single word of what the lama told me.

  • The lama dropped wearily to the ground, much as a heavy fruit-eating bat cowers, and returned to his rosary.

    Kim Rudyard Kipling
  • Our religion is called the lamaic one—from the word 'lama,' superior.

  • All he had ascertained at the place which he had visited was, that our lama had started several days before with our camels.

  • After a while a lama came in with a smiling face and said he had good news to give me.

    In the Forbidden Land Arnold Henry Savage Landor
  • "There is no religion, the ceremonies of which are not surrounded with more theatrical forms," the lama answered.

British Dictionary definitions for lama


a priest or monk of Lamaism
Word Origin
C17: from Tibetan blama
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 lama

"Buddhist priest of Mongolia or Tibet," 1650s, from Tibetan blama "chief, high priest," with silent b-. Related: Lamasery.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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lama in Culture
lama [(lah-muh)]

In the Buddhism of Tibet, a monk or priest. The chief of the lamas is the Dalai Lama.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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lama in the Bible

(Matt. 27:46), a Hebrew word meaning why, quoted from Ps. 22:1.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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