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

  • n. 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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A denomination of Buddhism elaborated in Japan.
  • n. A philosophy of calm reminiscent of that of the Buddhist denomination.
  • adj. Extremely relaxed and collected

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

  • n. street name for lysergic acid diethylamide
  • n. a Buddhist doctrine that enlightenment can be attained through direct intuitive insight
  • n. school of Mahayana Buddhism asserting that enlightenment can come through meditation and intuition rather than faith; China and Japan


Japanese zen, from Chinese (Mandarin) chán, meditation, from Pali jhānaṃ, from Sanskrit dhyānam, from dhyāti, he meditates.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Japanese  (zen), from Middle Chinese 禅那 (chánnà), from Sanskrit ध्यान (dhyāna, "a type of meditation"); compare Pali झान (jhāna) (Wiktionary)



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  • I wonder if the same 'zen'is true of the characters in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

    August 23, 2010

  • "Perhaps it would save time if he went back to get his car, but then again it was only a short distance, and he had a tremendous propensity for getting lost when driving. This was largely because of his "Zen" method of navigation, which was simply to find any car that looked as if it knew where it was going and follow it. The results were often more surprising than successful, but he felt it was worth it for the sake of the few occasions when it was both."

    Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988).

    August 23, 2010