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.

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Origin of koan

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

Words nearby koan

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

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