[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.

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.
  1. Mayan. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mayas

Historical Examples of mayas

  • To Mayas horror it left one dead bee after another in its wake.

  • The architectural skill of the Mayas must have been of a very high order.


    Charles Reginald Enock

  • There is no question that such was the case with the brief and bloody revolt of the Mayas in 1761.


    Daniel G. Brinton

  • We will now turn our attention to the ruins in the territory of the Mayas.

  • The Mayas are said to have placed the commencement of the year about the sixteenth of July.

British Dictionary definitions for mayas


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

Word Origin for maya

C19: from Sanskrit


  1. the Hindu goddess of illusion, the personification of the idea that the material world is illusory
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
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 mayas


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mayas in Culture



A Native American people, living in what is now Mexico and northern Central America, who had a flourishing civilization from before the birth of Jesus until around 1600, when they were conquered by the Spanish. The Mayas are known for their astronomical observations, accurate calendars, sophisticated hieroglyphics, and pyramids.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.