noun Buddhism.

a person who has attained prajna, or Enlightenment, but who postpones Nirvana in order to help others to attain Enlightenment: individual Bodhisattvas are the subjects of devotion in certain sects and are often represented in painting and sculpture.

Compare Arhat.

Origin of Bodhisattva

1820–30; < Pali, Sanskrit Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bodhisattva

Historical Examples of bodhisattva

  • As they thus went away, the Bodhisattva arose and walked (after them).

  • Then the Bodhisattva said, “I will deliver the king from this snake.”

    The Kath Sarit Sgara

    Somadeva Bhatta

  • Have you not heard the story of the adorable Bodhisattva in his former birth as a boar?

    The Kath Sarit Sgara

    Somadeva Bhatta

  • Have I in my delusion eaten an incarnation of a Bodhisattva?

    The Kath Sarit Sgara

    Somadeva Bhatta

  • Miroku, too, is frequently to be seen, but Miroku is not yet a Buddha but only Bodhisattva.

    Korean Buddhism

    Frederick Starr

British Dictionary definitions for bodhisattva



(in Mahayana Buddhism) a divine being worthy of nirvana who remains on the human plane to help men to salvationCompare arhat

Word Origin for Bodhisattva

Sanskrit, literally: one whose essence is enlightenment, from bodhi enlightenment + sattva essence
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 bodhisattva



1828, from Sanskrit, literally "one whose essence is perfect knowledge," from bodhi "perfect knowledge" (see Buddha) + sattva "reality, being."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper