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pali english glossary

The glossary exists in 2 languages.


  • Before using the dictionary, it is advised to read this page.
  • Warning! To correctly display all the Pali words of this Website, it is necessary to download the "Dhamma" font.

Direct access


  •  x       Link to words' page starting with the indicated letter (instead of "X").
  • [ ]         Strict literal translation.
  • //        Split of different definitions.
  •          Feminine gender.
  •         Masculine gender.
  •          Neuter gender.
  •          Without gender.
  •          Three genders.
  •         Verb.

About the glossary

Glossary's terms

This glossary brings together all the pali words of this web site, except for pali block paragraph, specific terms between brackets or quotation marks and the proper names (which are the only ones that begin with a capital letter).

Quite All words listed into the glossary are used in this web site


If we wish to keep the precise meaning of Buddha's teachins, basically and respectfully, we have to take care to leave it exactly as it was given. We must study it, based on the spoken dialect which has been used to expose it: the pali. In order to make available to the greatest number this priceless treasure, the texts of this web site are (for this part) in English. However, some Pali words have been deliberately left, if we want that translations and explanations are free of mistakes, ambiguities or fuzziness. In many cases, these terms are untranslatable in English. So, it's better to have a basic knowledge of Pali words in order to have a deeper understanding of these texts.

The teaching of the Buddha and the buddhist monastic way of life seriously miss English culture. So, the terms which are used by the Buddha do not exist in the English language (as quite others languages). That's why it is essential to use the pali. In dhamma context using Christian monastic terms (ordination, confession, etc.) or Sanskrit terms (karma, nirvâna, etc.) one lacks of care. Their definition is different and sometimes in radical opposition with the true meaning of terms which they are supposed to translate and which Buddha employed.

However, some English words can be used keeping in mind their fuzziness. For Buddhist terms cautiousness is needed, Why? Because definitions given for them, even for the famous french dictionaries can be awkward specially for this topic. So, in this web site, pali words are frequent, but don't worry about it, actually, same ones are often repeated (for example the bhikkhu term: disciple of the community established by Buddha). In this way ones that which does not have any knowledge of pali will quickly familiarize with most usual terms while browsing in this web site.

Pali characters

The pali is a dialect not a language. That is to say that it was almost exclusively spoken by the people who lived at time of Buddha. Before than the canonical texts have been written down on paper (or initially on other supports such as stone or sheets of palm), their were only verbally transmitted. That's why there's no appropriate Pali alphabet. Written Pali texts are phonetic. Those that are Suggested for Latin are based on 31 characters, which that usually covers all sounds. That is to say: 21 characters of Latin alphabet ( all alphabet except F, Q, W, X and Z) 10 more characters used in specialized fonts.

Each character or combination of characters matches to a precise pronunciation. It's for example, the explanation of the "a" and the "ā" characters. The first one is a short "a" and the second a long "a", which is sometimes transcribed by "aa". To ease the search of a word, the similar letters are mixed together in alphabetical classification. In this way, one can quickly find a word even not knowing if it's beginning with an "a" or with an "ā".

To go faster

In order to go directly in a term's definition, one just have to add after the page name into addresse bar, followed with the "#" character and the whole Pali word (without accents).

A page name is just defined by the letter wanted, followed with "htm" extension (example: "v.htm" for the letter "v").


From this page, select ".htm" in the address bar just like this: 

Keyboard a slash, followed by first letter of the required word. Example for the letter "v": 

Then add ".htm#" : 

It's up to you to input the whole requested word. Example with "vipassana": 

Type "Enter" or click on the sending button ("Go").

The Pali numbers

  1. paṭhama
  2. dutiya
  3. tatiya
  4. catuttha
  5. piñcama
  6. chaṭṭha
  7. sattama
  8. aṭṭhama
  9. navama
  10. dasama

For further information on the Pali terms and "Dhamma" font, see the chapter "Pali terms".

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about this page

Author: Monk Dhamma Sāmi

Translators: Franck Theolade & Sara Kane

Update: 2007, March the 19th

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