What does koan mean?

Definitions for koanˈkoʊ ɑn

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word koan.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. koan(noun)

    a paradoxical anecdote or a riddle that has no solution; used in Zen Buddhism to show the inadequacy of logical reasoning


  1. koan(Noun)

    A story about a Zen master and his student, sometimes like a riddle, other times like a fable, which has become an object of Zen study, and which, when meditated upon, may unlock mechanisms in the Zen studentu2019s mind leading to satori.

  2. koan(Noun)

    A riddle with no solution, used to provoke reflection on the inadequacy of logical reasoning, and to lead to enlightenment.

  3. Origin: From (), which was from 公案.


  1. Kōan

    A kōan; Chinese: 公案; pinyin: gōng'àn; Korean: 공안; Vietnamese: công án is a story, dialogue, question, or statement, which is used in Zen-practice to provoke the "great doubt", and test a student's progress in Zen practice.

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. koan

    A Zen teaching riddle. Classically, koans are attractive paradoxes to be meditated on; their purpose is to help one to enlightenment by temporarily jamming normal cognitive processing so that something more interesting can happen (this practice is associated with Rinzai Zen Buddhism). Defined here because hackers are very fond of the koan form and compose their own koans for humorous and/or enlightening effect. See Some AI Koans, has the X nature, hacker humor.

Anagrams for koan »

  1. kaon, KAON

  2. NKAO

  3. KAON


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of koan in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of koan in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Images & Illustrations of koan

  1. koankoankoan

Translations for koan

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for koan »


Find a translation for the koan definition in other languages:

Select another language:

Discuss these koan definitions with the community:

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:     


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"koan." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 21 Feb. 2018. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/koan>.

Are we missing a good definition for koan? Don't keep it to yourself...

Nearby & related entries:

Alternative searches for koan:

Thanks for your vote! We truly appreciate your support.