A Dictionary Of Chinese Buddhist Terms

With Sanskrit And English Equivalents And A Sanskrit-pali Index

by William Edward Soothill | 1937 | 324,264 words

For about a thousand years, Buddhism dominated the thought of China and her thinkers were occupied with Buddhist philosophy. This dictionary serves as a resource to the interpretation of Chinese culture, as well as an important reference for the comparative study of Sanskrit and Pali originals. The author provides a key for the students which to u...

Professor Hodous's Preface

After the Dictionary went to press, Professor Soothill died. The work on the Dictionary, however, was completed. For ten years we worked together, he at Oxford and I at Hartford, and the manuscript crossed the Atlantic four times. During his semester in New York as Visiting Professor in Columbia University and on my brief visit to Oxford, we had opportunity to consult together on some outstanding problems. The work of organizing the material and harmonizing the differences was done by Professor Soothill. He was well equipped to undertake the task of producing a Buddhist Dictionary, having a thorough knowledge of the Chinese language. His Pocket Chinese Dictionary is still in use. He knew Chinese culture and religion. He possessed a keen sense for the significant and a rare ability to translate abstruse terms into terse English. But even more valuable was his profound insight into and deep sympathy with the religious life and thought of another people.

The text and the indexes were again finally revised during his last long illness by Lady Hosie under his supervision. He was able also to appreciate the kind collaboration of Dr. Lionel Giles on the earlier proof-sheets. But his death meant a vastly increased amount of work for Dr. Giles who, on the other side of the Atlantic from myself, has had to assume a responsibility quite unexpected by himself and by us. For two to three years, with unfailing courtesy and patience, he has considered and corrected the very trying pages of the proofs, while the Dictionary was being printed. He gave chivalrously of his long knowledge both of Buddhism and of the Chinese literary characters. He adds yet another laurel to the cause of Chinese learning and research. And in the same way Professor F.W. Thomas bore the brunt of the Sanskrit proof-reading. We have indeed been fortunate to have had our work checked in extenso by such exacting scholars.

To Sir E. Denison Ross, who kindly looked over the proofs, and added certain welcome corrections, our thanks are due. Also we would wish to acknowledge the help of Mr. L. M. Chefdeville, who, putting his experience of various Oriental languages at our disposal, made many helpful suggestions, especially as regards the Indexes. Nor do we forget the fidelity and careful work of the printers, Messrs. Stephen Austin and Sons, who collaborated with us in every way in our desire to produce a volume a little worthy of its notable subject.

Our object is well expressed by my late colleague. The difficulties in the production of the book were not small. Buddhism has a long history. Its concepts were impregnated by different cultures, and expressed in different languages. For about a thousand years


Buddhism dominated the thought of China, and her first-rate minds were occupied with Buddhist philosophy. For a period it lagged; but today is in a different position from what it was a generation ago. Buddhism is no longer a decadent religion and in certain countries it is making considerable progress. It is therefore to be hoped that this Dictionary will help to interpret Chinese culture both through the ages and today.


Hartford, Connecticut, 1937.


Methods and Notes

1. The rule adopted has been to arrange the terms, first, by strokes, then by radicals, i. e.: -

(a) By the number of strokes in the initial character of a term; then,

(b) According to its radical.

Thus 佛 will be found under seven strokes and under the 亻 radical; 法 under eight strokes and the 氵 radical; 愛 under thirteen strokes and the 心 radical. A page index is provided showing where changes in the number of strokes occur.

2. A list of difficult characters is provided.

3. An index of the Sanskrit terms is given with references to the Chinese text.

4. A limited number of abbreviations have been used, which are self-evident, e.g. tr. for translation, translator, etc.; translit. for transliteration, transliterate, etc.; abbrev. for abbreviation; intp. for interpreted or interpretation; u.f. for used for. "Eitel" refers to Dr. Eitel's Handbook of Chinese Buddhism; "M.W." to Monier-Williams' Sanskrit-English Dictionary; "Keith" to Professor A. Berriedale Keith's Buddhist Philosophy; "Getty" to Miss Alice Getty's The Gods of Northern Buddhism; B.D. to the 佛學大辭典; B.N. to Bunyiu Nanjio's Catalogue.

5. Where characters are followed by others in brackets, they are used alone or in combination; e. g. in 十善 (正法) the term 十善 may be used alone or in full 十善正法.

6. In the text a few variations occur in the romanization of Sanskrit and other non-Chinese words. These have been corrected in the Sanskrit index, which should be taken as giving the correct forms.

In this Dictionary it was not possible to follow the principle of inserting hyphens between the members of Sanskrit compound words.

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