• synonyms


[mah-yah, -yuh]
noun Hinduism.
  1. the power, as of a god, to produce illusions.
  2. the production of an illusion.
  3. (in Vedantic philosophy) the illusion of the reality of sensory experience and of the experienced qualities and attributes of oneself.
  4. (initial capital letter) Also called Mahamaya. a goddess personifying the power that creates phenomena.
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Origin of maya

Borrowed into English from Sanskrit around 1815–25
Related formsma·yan, adjective


noun, plural Ma·yas, (especially collectively) Ma·ya.
  1. a member of a major pre-Columbian civilization of the Yucatán Peninsula that reached its peak in the 9th century a.d. and produced magnificent ceremonial cities with pyramids, a sophisticated mathematical and calendar system, hieroglyphic writing, and fine sculpture, painting, and ceramics.
  2. a member of a modern American Indian people of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and parts of Honduras who are the descendants of this ancient civilization.
  3. any of the Mayan languages; the historical and modern languages of the Mayas.
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  1. Mayan.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for maya


  1. Hinduism illusion, esp the material world of the senses regarded as illusory
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Derived Formsmayan, adjective

Word Origin

C19: from Sanskrit


  1. the Hindu goddess of illusion, the personification of the idea that the material world is illusory
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Derived FormsMayan, adjective


  1. Also called: Mayan plural -ya or -yas a member of an American Indian people of Yucatan, Belize, and N Guatemala, having an ancient culture once characterized by outstanding achievements in architecture, astronomy, chronology, painting, and pottery
  2. the language of this peopleSee also Mayan
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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 maya


1822, from the native name. Related: Mayan (1831).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper