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  1. (in Hawaii) a steep slope or cliff.

Origin of pali

From Hawaiian


  1. the Prakrit language of the Buddhist scriptures.

Origin of Pali

1685–95; short for Sanskrit pāli-bhāsa language of the canonical texts, equivalent to pāli line, row, canon + bhāsa language
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pali

Historical Examples

  • The pali, the precipice, stands for any difficulty or obstacle of magnitude.

    Unwritten Literature of Hawaii

    Nathaniel Bright Emerson

  • Nuuanu (Nu'u--nu) a valley back of Honolulu that leads to the "Pali."

    Unwritten Literature of Hawaii

    Nathaniel Bright Emerson

  • This can be traced through the Apabhraṁśa -hi to the Pali -dhi.

  • But the Pali shrieked; it was the one imposing element that defied stillness.

    The Pacific Triangle

    Sydney Greenbie

  • I have ordered a carriage for a drive to the Pali, which, I am told, is the favorite one.

    The Four Corners in Japan

    Amy Ella Blanchard

British Dictionary definitions for pali


  1. an ancient language of India derived from Sanskrit; the language of the Buddhist scriptures

Word Origin

C19: from Sanskrit pāli-bhāsa, from pāli canon + bhāsa language, of Dravidian origin
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

Word Origin and History for pali


1690s, Middle High Indian dialect used in sacred Buddhist writings (the lingua franca of northern India from c. 6c. B.C.E.-2c. B.C.E.), from Sanskrit Pali, from pali bhasa "language of the canonical books," from pali "line, role, canon" + bhasa "language."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper