What does koan mean?

Definitions for koan
ˈkoʊ ɑnkoan

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word koan.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. koannoun

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


  1. koannoun

    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 student's mind leading to satori.

  2. koannoun

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

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


  1. koan

    A koan is a paradoxical anecdote, riddle or story used in Zen Buddhism as a meditation object to provoke contemplation and attempt to transcend rational, logical thinking towards direct realization or enlightenment. It is often in the form of a dialogue between a Zen master and a student, often ending with a statement or answer that appears paradoxical or nonsensical.


  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.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. KOAN

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Koan is ranked #120187 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Koan surname appeared 144 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Koan.

    72.9% or 105 total occurrences were White.
    22.2% or 32 total occurrences were Asian.

Matched Categories

Anagrams for koan »

  1. kaon

  2. KAON

  3. NKAO

How to pronounce koan?

How to say koan in sign language?


  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

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for koan

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"koan." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 20 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/koan>.

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