Dalai Lama

[dah-lahy lah-muh]


(formerly) the ruler and chief monk of Tibet, believed to be a reincarnation of Avalokitesvara and sought for among newborn children after the death of the preceding Dalai Lama.

Compare Tashi Lama.

Origin of Dalai Lama

< Mongolian, equivalent to dalai ocean + lama a celibate priest

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for dalai lama

Dalai Lama


(until 1959) the chief lama and ruler of Tibet
born 1935, the 14th holder of this office (1940), who fled to India (1959): Nobel peace prize 1989

Word Origin for Dalai Lama

from Mongolian dalai ocean; see lama

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 dalai lama

Dalai Lama

literally "the Ocean Lama," from Mongolian dalai "ocean" + lama.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper