Definition of koan in English:


Line breaks: koan
Pronunciation: /ˈkəʊɑːn
, ˈkəʊan


  • A paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment.
    More example sentences
    • Like the ponderer of a Zen koan, the viewer must come to terms with this paradox.
    • The goal of the Zen koan is enlightenment, which is a profound change of heart.
    • Let's take a look at one of the classic Zen koans, the one about wild geese.


Japanese, literally 'matter for public thought', from Chinese gōngàn 'official business'.

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Nearby words

Word of the day grotesquerie
Pronunciation: grəʊˈtɛskəri
grotesque quality or grotesque things collectively