kar·​ma | \ˈkär-mə also ˈkər- \

Definition of karma 

1 often capitalized : the force generated by a person's actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person's next existence Each individual is born with karma, the residual from past lives that must be resolved …— Diane Goldner broadly : such a force considered as affecting the events of one's life Claude says, "You reap what you sow." I call this idea karma, that what goes around comes around. — Anthony Walton I figured I needed all the good karma I could get if I was serious about winning Noah's heart. — Robin Palmer

2 : a characteristic emanation, aura, or spirit that infuses or vitalizes someone or something … he wrote a book entitled Maverick in which he talked about his drug use and his teammates' karma— Sam Smith Graffiti on the walls of trains or subway stations create bad karma.— Ed Koch

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Other Words from karma

karmic \ ˈkär-​mik also  ˈkər-​ \ adjective

Examples of karma in a Sentence

She believes that helping people produces good karma. as the site of a string of failed businesses, the building definitely had bad karma

Recent Examples on the Web

Relieves stress for heirs Donating a home can be more than good karma for the donor and his or her family. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "These donors love their alma maters so much they gave them the roofs over their heads," 13 July 2018 There are glimpses, brief moments of more complicated self-reflection from Pusha—guilt, regret, and a fear of what karma might have in store. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 Fishing karma surely has a big catch in his future. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Extraordinary musky fishing tale, verified and true, comes to happy ending," 11 July 2018 And the good karma is already working: KWCH said that both Andy and Kal were awarded the Helping Hand from local firm, DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers, earning $1,200. Lindsay Kimble, PEOPLE.com, "Man Finds $1 Million Winning Lottery Ticket — and Tracks Down the Lucky Owner: 'It Felt Good'," 7 June 2018 Unfortunately for him, karma came back and collected him in a wreck midway through the third stage, ending his chances for a win. Brendan Marks, charlotteobserver, "NASCAR: Controversial Daytona race ends with Erik Jones' first-ever win in double OT," 7 July 2018 And #PermitPatty, the infamous white woman who called the police on an 8-year-old black girl selling water, is the latest to feel the cold sting of karma. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "The Comeuppance Continues: At Least 6 Businesses Cut Ties With #PermitPatty After Viral Video," 26 June 2018 Dempster said afterward, absolving the franchise of bad karma. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "Brandon Morrow not fretting over people mocking his back injury," 20 June 2018 But scholars say true piety among monks and lay people has waned and been replaced by an emphasis on donations and gestures that yield instant karma. George Styllis, Washington Post, "Thai crackdown targets Buddhist monks amid accusations of embezzlement and fraud," 24 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of karma

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for karma

Sanskrit karma fate, work

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Time Traveler for karma

The first known use of karma was in 1827

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More Definitions for karma



English Language Learners Definition of karma

: the force created by a person's actions that is believed in Hinduism and Buddhism to determine what that person's next life will be like

: the force created by a person's actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person

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Comments on karma

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


playful or foolish behavior

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