A list of Pali terms and examples


Hi everyone, i found this excellent repository of pali terms with examples, I thought it would be good to have a reference here if it doesn’t already exist.(not sure of author) refer to admin for a different category if need be.


Thanks for supplying this. I haven’t seen it before, although Ven Varado is an old friend of mine. It’s a beautifully presented and carefully considered piece of work.

Looking through his discussions, I find the results a little mixed. Choosing some terms more or less at random:

  • agārasmā anagāriyaṃ: Both of us wished to emphasize the fact that this refers to the adoption of a renunciate lifestyle rather than the literal moving out of home. He suggests “from the household life to the ascetic life”, whereas I have “from the lay life to homelessness”.
  • Adhimuccati: He adopts this reading consistently in the sequence pakkhandati pasīdati santiṭṭhati adhimuccati. I came to same same conclusion and adopted this in my translations: “eager, confident, settled, and decided”.
  • Khaya: Is given as “destruction”, even though I pointed out as far back as A Swift Pair of Messengers that it never means destruction, rather, “ending, evaporating, waning, running out”. Curiously, the only material example he gives supports this, as it speaks of water drops on a hot plate; we would never say they are “destroyed”, but that they “evaporate”.
  • Jhāna: He suggests that in ordinary language contexts, i.e. outside of cases dealing with the 4 jhanas specificlly, that it can often mean merely “meditate”. Most of these examples are from verse, where of course words tend to have a less technical meaning. Less persuasively, he says that there is no connection in Pali between the two meanings of “burn” and “meditate”, failing to note the contexts that do just that, eg. MN 127: " Suppose an oil lamp was burning with impure oil and impure wick. Because of the impurity of the oil and the wick it burns dimly, as it were. In the same way, take some mendicant who meditates determined on pervading ‘corrupted radiance’. Their physical discomfort is not completely settled, their dullness and drowsiness is not completely eradicated, and their restlessness and remorse is not completely eliminated. Because of this they practice absorption dimly, as it were."
  • Kulaputta: Ven Varado points out that this refers to gentry, rather than the overly-literal “clansman” used by Ven Bodhi. It’s not easy to capture this in an idiomatic way, I use “respectable person”, but am contemplating changing it to “gentleman”, although I would prefer a non-gendered term. Varado rightly notes that this does not refer to boyhood. But he still retains a connection with “youth”, despite the fact that the examples he gives (a king, a village headman, a general) in fact show the term has no connection with youth at all. Here (as, incidentally in devaputta), putta (=“son, child”) no more conveys youth than does “sons of the soil” or “Fairchild”. It refers to someone who was born into a respectable family, regardless of their age.

These are just a few quick notes, hopefully to encourage interested students to engage with his work. The way Ven Varado has gathered and arranged his research is admirable, and allows the reader to easily see not just what his conclusions are, but more importantly, how he arrived at them.