[nir-vah-nuh, -van-uh, ner-]


(often initial capital letter) Pali nibbana. Buddhism. freedom from the endless cycle of personal reincarnations, with their consequent suffering, as a result of the extinction of individual passion, hatred, and delusion: attained by the Arhat as his goal but postponed by the Bodhisattva.
(often initial capital letter) Hinduism. salvation through the union of Atman with Brahma; moksha.
a place or state characterized by freedom from or oblivion to pain, worry, and the external world.

Origin of nirvana

First recorded in 1830–40, nirvana is from the Sanskrit word nirvāṇa
Related formsnir·va·nic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for nirvana

Contemporary Examples of nirvana

Historical Examples of nirvana

  • And because the Buddha had reached heaven (Nirvana), it would be useless to pray to him.

  • This is Nirvana, the end to which we must all strive, the only end that there can be to the trouble of the world.

  • They are transient things, I yearn for the Immortal state, Nirvana.

    The Buddha

    Paul Carus

  • Nirvana is attained when passions are Extinct and when the heart is blessed with peace.

    The Buddha

    Paul Carus

  • Earnestness is the path of immortality (Nirvana), thoughtlessness the path of death.

British Dictionary definitions for nirvana



Buddhism Hinduism final release from the cycle of reincarnation attained by extinction of all desires and individual existence, culminating (in Buddhism) in absolute blessedness, or (in Hinduism) in absorption into Brahman
Derived Formsnirvanic, adjective

Word Origin for nirvana

C19: from Sanskrit: extinction, literally: a blowing out, from nir- out + vāti it blows
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 nirvana

1836, from Sanskrit nirvana-s "extinction, disappearance" (of the individual soul into the universal), literally "to blow out, a blowing out" ("not transitively, but as a fire ceases to draw;" a literal Latinization would be de-spiration), from nis-, nir- "out" + va- "to blow" (see wind (n.1)). Figurative sense of "perfect bliss" is from 1895.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nirvana in Culture


[(neer-vah-nuh, nur-vah-nuh)]

In Buddhism, the highest state of consciousness, in which the soul is freed from all desires and attachments. Nirvana is sometimes inaccurately used as a synonym for heaven or paradise.

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.