Skip to search.
Reference
Dictionary
Encyclopedia
Thesaurus
World Factbook

 
Search Dictionary:

Houghton Mifflin

Zen  audio  (zn) KEY 

NOUN:
A school of Mahayana Buddhism that asserts that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition rather than through faith and devotion and that is practiced mainly in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Also called Zen Buddhism.

ETYMOLOGY:
Japanese zen, from Chinese (Mandarin) chán, meditation, from Pali jhna, from Sanskrit dhynam, from dhyti, he meditates

WORD HISTORY:
It is hard to believe that a word as Asian as Zen is ultimately an Indo-European word. Zen, which has been in English since 1727, is the Japanese pronunciation of Chinese chán, "quietude." Chán comes from Pali jhna, from Sanskrit dhynam, "meditation," from the Sanskrit root dhy-, dh-, "to see, observe." The Indo-European root behind the Sanskrit is *dhei-, *dhy-, "to see, look at." This root also shows up in Greek, where *dhy- developed into s-, as in Common Greek *sma, "sign, distinguishing mark." This became sma in Attic Greek, the source of English semantic.


Visit our partner's site
Provided by Houghton Mifflin
logoeReference -- Download this interactive reference software to your desktop computer