koan

[ koh-ahn ]
/ ˈkoʊ ɑn /

noun, plural ko·ans, ko·an. Zen.

a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating.

Nearby words

  1. knut,
  2. knäckebröd,
  3. ko,
  4. koa,
  5. koala,
  6. koap,
  7. kob,
  8. kobarid,
  9. kobe,
  10. kobe beef

Compare mondo1.

Origin of koan

1945–50; < Japanese kōan, earlier koũ-an < Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese gōngàn public proposal

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


British Dictionary definitions for koan

koan

/ (ˈkəʊæn) /

noun

(in Zen Buddhism) a problem or riddle that admits no logical solution

Word Origin for koan

from Japanese

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 koan

koan

n.

Zen paradox, 1946, from Japanese ko "public" + an "matter for thought."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper