Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One of the major schools of Buddhism, teaching social concern and universal salvation and active in Japan, Korea, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, Vietnam, and China.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • proper n. A school of Buddhism widely practised in China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia. It literally means "Great Vehicle" and teaches universal salvation with emphasis on social concerns.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a major school of Buddhism teaching social concern and universal salvation, found in China; Japan; Tibet; Nepal; Korea; and Mongolia.
  • n. one of two great schools of Buddhist doctrine emphasizing a common search for universal salvation esp through faith alone; chiefly in China; Tibet; Japan.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A later form of Buddhism, originated by Nagarguna.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. one of two great schools of Buddhist doctrine emphasizing a common search for universal salvation especially through faith alone; the dominant religion of China and Tibet and Japan
  • n. a major school of Buddhism teaching social concern and universal salvation; China; Japan; Tibet; Nepal; Korea; Mongolia

Etymologies

Sanskrit Mahāyānam, greater vehicle (as contrasted with Hīnayānam, lesser vehicle; see Hinayana) : mahā-, great; + yānam, vehicle.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Sanskrit महायान (mahāyāna, literally "Great Vehicle"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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