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Word of the Day
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Definitions for koan

  1. 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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Citations for koan
"All in One Day" is a hip shaking exercise in classic rock while the beautifully arranged "Holy," is a spare waltz for guitar and violin that closes this completely satisfying disc with a classic country music koan: "How do you sleep at night when your baby's aching?" Chris Davis, "Sound Advice: Holly & the Heathens at the Hi-Tone," Memphis Flyer, July 2010.
At that time I believed my affective controls were no longer intact, but now I present this to you as a more cogent question than it might at first appear, a kind of koan of the period. Joan Didion, The white album
Origin of koan
1945-1950
Koan is Japanese, ko "public" and -an, "matter for thought." It enters English through Zen Buddhism before achieving a more general sense.