The Awakened Lord: The Name of the Buddha in East Asia

  • Pellard
  • Journal of the American Oriental Society, January 2014, American Oriental Society
  • DOI: 10.7817/jameroriesoci.134.4.689

The etymology of the name of Buddha in Japanese, Korean, and other Asian languages

What is it about?

The name of Buddha in Japanese was borrowed from Korean, and both derive from a Chinese imitation of the Sanskrit name Buddha, followed by a word meaning ‘lord, king’. The same pattern ‘lord Buddha’ is also found in Turkic and Mongolian.

Why is it important?

This work solves the problem of the hitherto mysterious origin of a culturally important word by replacing it within its geographical and historical context.


Thomas Pellard
Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)

Solving an etymological puzzle is always a pleasure, especially in the case of culturally important words and when it makes sense from a larger historical perspective. Such etymologies are by no means negligible contributions but are often solid achievements.

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The following have contributed to this page: Thomas Pellard