Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[zen] /zɛn/
Chinese Ch'an. Buddhism. a Mahayana movement, introduced into China in the 6th century a.d. and into Japan in the 12th century, that emphasizes enlightenment for the student by the most direct possible means, accepting formal studies and observances only when they form part of such means.
Compare koan, mondo.
the discipline and practice of this sect.
Also called Zen Buddhism.
< Japanese < Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese chán, transliteration of Pali jhāna < Sanskrit dhyāna
Related forms
Zenic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for Zen
  • As the Zen buddhists say, you can't step in the same river twice.
  • If you're willing to get a little Zen with it, the solution is simple.
  • To learn how to make one, visit her blog, bento Zen.
  • On the other hand, the new apartment is fabulous, and my Zen is close to nirvana.
  • Guest rooms feature expansive views and high design in a Zen environment.
British Dictionary definitions for Zen


a Japanese school, of 12th-century Chinese origin, teaching that contemplation of one's essential nature to the exclusion of all else is the only way of achieving pure enlightenment
(modifier) of or relating to this school: Zen Buddhism
Derived Forms
Zenic, adjective
Zenist, noun
Word Origin
from Japanese, from Chinese ch'an religious meditation, from Pali jhāna, from Sanskrit dhyāna
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for Zen

school of Mahayana Buddhism, 1727, from Japanese, from Chinese ch'an, ultimately from Sanskrit dhyana "thought, meditation," from PIE root *dhya "to see, contemplate."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Zen in Culture

Zen definition

An approach to religion, arising from Buddhism, that seeks religious enlightenment by meditation in which there is no consciousness of self.

Note: Deliberately irrational statements are sometimes used in Zen to jar persons into realizing the limits of the common uses of the intellect. One well-known example is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Zen in Technology

[Kehoe, B., "Zen and the Art of the Internet", February 1992.]
[Jargon File]

To figure out something by meditation or by a sudden flash of enlightenment. Originally applied to bugs, but occasionally applied to problems of life in general. "How'd you figure out the buffer allocation problem?" "Oh, I zenned it."
Contrast grok, which connotes a time-extended version of zenning a system. Compare hack mode. See also guru.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for Zen

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for Zen

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with Zen

Nearby words for zen