Etymology
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koan (n.)

Zen paradox meant to stimulate the mind, 1918, from Japanese ko "public" + an "matter for thought."

updated on April 09, 2016

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Definitions of koan from WordNet

koan (n.)
a paradoxical anecdote or a riddle that has no solution; used in Zen Buddhism to show the inadequacy of logical reasoning;
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.