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[nir-vah-nuh, -van-uh, ner-] /nɪrˈvɑ nə, -ˈvæn ə, nər-/
(often initial capital letter). Pali nibbana. Buddhism. freedom from the endless cycle of personal reincarnations, with their consequent suffering, as a result of the extinction of individual passion, hatred, and delusion: attained by the Arhat as his goal but postponed by the Bodhisattva.
(often initial capital letter) Hinduism. salvation through the union of Atman with Brahma; moksha.
a place or state characterized by freedom from or oblivion to pain, worry, and the external world.
Origin of nirvana
First recorded in 1830-40, nirvana is from the Sanskrit word nirvāṇa
Related forms
nirvanic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for nirvana
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The desire not to be is the breaking of the great wheel of birth and re-birth, and the attainment of nirvana.

    Myths & Legends of Japan F. Hadland (Frederick Hadland) Davis
  • And that which is sufficient unto a man is nirvana unto him—if he but knew it.

    Opportunities in Engineering Charles M. Horton
  • Sometimes the attorney finally reaches nirvana; the invention comes into its own.

    The Professional Approach Charles Leonard Harness
  • In this divine creation Henry reached the nirvana of good things to eat.

    In Africa John T. McCutcheon
  • "Then it will be what the ancient Egyptians call nirvana," said the other grimly.

    A Sub and a Submarine Percy F. Westerman
British Dictionary definitions for nirvana


/nɪəˈvɑːnə; nɜː-/
(Buddhism, Hinduism) final release from the cycle of reincarnation attained by extinction of all desires and individual existence, culminating (in Buddhism) in absolute blessedness, or (in Hinduism) in absorption into Brahman
Derived Forms
nirvanic, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Sanskrit: extinction, literally: a blowing out, from nir- out + vāti it blows
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 nirvana

1836, from Sanskrit nirvana-s "extinction, disappearance" (of the individual soul into the universal), literally "to blow out, a blowing out" ("not transitively, but as a fire ceases to draw;" a literal Latinization would be de-spiration), from nis-, nir- "out" + va- "to blow" (see wind (n.1)). Figurative sense of "perfect bliss" is from 1895.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nirvana in Culture
nirvana [(neer-vah-nuh, nur-vah-nuh)]

In Buddhism, the highest state of consciousness, in which the soul is freed from all desires and attachments. Nirvana is sometimes inaccurately used as a synonym for heaven or paradise.

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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