Glossary for Buddhist Terms

Glossary for Buddhist Terms

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the terms used in this section. While it is not meant to be authoritative, nevertheless, we hope that it will provide to you an entrance into the world of Buddhism.

Note: The list contains the terms in order of use.

Buddhist Term

English Meaning


Pali: panna; Wisdom; Insight wisdom


Pali: Bhikkhu; Monk; Buddhist monk


Pali: Bhikkhuni; Nun; Buddhist nun


Rules and regulations for Buddhist monks and nun


Pali: Sutta; 1) Heard 2) Learning; commonly used to refer to the Buddhist Teachings.

So named because the initial canonization of the Sutra was based on what the Buddha’s disciples heard and learnt from the Buddha himself.


Greater Vehicle; also commonly referred to as the Northern tradition


1) Serenity; 2) stilling (of formations); 3) settlement (of litigation); ~ meditation: A form of meditation that trains one’s mind to focus on a meditation object, ultimately leading to single-pointedness of the mind.

See also vipassana.


Nirvana; final deliverance from suffering.


Pali: Vipassana; 1) Insight; ~ meditation: A form of meditation that trains one’s mind to contemplate on Buddhist teachings or concepts, ultimately leading to insight wisdom.

See also samatha.

Majjhima Nikaya

1) The Middle Length Discourse; 2) The collection of the Middle Length Sayings; part of a five set canonical collection of the Buddha’s discourse. So named as it contains all the discourses that are comparatively middle in length.


1) enlightened, Enlightened One; 2) Historical Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha


Pali: Dhamma; 1) the Buddha’s Teachings; 2) things, states, factors; 3) mind-objects; 4) qualities; 5) teachings; 6) (as suffix) subject to


Pali: Bodhisatta; 1) a future Buddha; 2) a being who aspires to be a Buddha