ahimsa

noun
ahim·​sa | \ ə-ˈhim-ˌsä How to pronounce ahimsa (audio) \

Definition of ahimsa

: the Hindu and Buddhist doctrine of refraining from harming any living being

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Ahimsa has been part of the English language since at least the late 19th century, but the word didn't gain the attention of the English-speaking world until the first half of the 20th century, when it was recognized as an important component of the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Ahimsa comes from a Sanskrit word meaning "noninjury," and Gandhi's policy of nonviolent protest played a crucial role in the political and social changes that eventually led to India's independence from Britain in 1947.

Examples of ahimsa in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His role models include leaders of the non-violent civil rights movement and Gandhi, who used the principle of ahimsa, doing no harm, to guide his own campaign of non-violence. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Commentary: In times of discord, how do we hit the reset button?," 27 Sep. 2020 The practice of ahimsa benefits wildlife but can also complicate procedures in animal hospitals. Oliver Whang, New York Times, "Meet the Bird Medics of New Delhi," 19 Feb. 2020 The practice of ahimsa benefits wildlife but can also complicate procedures in animal hospitals. Oliver Whang, New York Times, "Meet the Bird Medics of New Delhi," 19 Feb. 2020 The practice of ahimsa benefits wildlife but can also complicate procedures in animal hospitals. Oliver Whang, New York Times, "Meet the Bird Medics of New Delhi," 19 Feb. 2020 Gandhi the scientist spent a lifetime exploring a question that is at the core of human existence: Is violence more natural than nonviolence or ahimsa? Rajni Bakshi, Quartz India, "If we are naturally violent, why do armies spend so much on training to kill?," 1 Oct. 2019 The practice of ahimsa benefits wildlife but can also complicate procedures in animal hospitals. Oliver Whang, New York Times, "Meet the Bird Medics of New Delhi," 10 Feb. 2020 Bono: This invention of India, ahimsa, this is a gift to the world from India and Mahatma Gandhi. Joe Lynch, Billboard, "U2 on the India-Born Concept That Can Help With Today's 'Politics of Fear'," 26 Sep. 2019 According to Raich, yoga class guidelines are undergirded by the concept of ahimsa, one of the five yamas, or moral values, of yoga. The Washington Post, The Know, "The 12 dos and don’ts of yoga class," 7 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ahimsa.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ahimsa

1875, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ahimsa

Sanskrit ahiṁsā noninjury

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ahimsa

Listen to Our Podcast about ahimsa

Statistics for ahimsa

Cite this Entry

“Ahimsa.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ahimsa. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

More from Merriam-Webster on ahimsa

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ahimsa

Comments on ahimsa

What made you want to look up ahimsa? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!