1. Hinduism Any of a group of deities that are endowed with great power and in later tradition are considered to represent aspects of the Godhead.
2. Buddhism Any of large, heterogeneous group of supernatural beings, including the deities that guard the four cardinal points and other inhabitants of planes of existence transcending the world of humans. Devas are not immortal, although they may have lifespans lasting billions of years and be exempt from human ills such as hunger and pain.
[Sanskrit devaḥ; see dyeu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.