dhar·ma (därmə, dûr-)
1. Hinduism & Buddhism
a. The principle or law that orders the universe.
b. Individual conduct in conformity with this principle.
c. The essential function or nature of a thing.
2. Hinduism Individual obligation with respect to caste, social custom, civil law, and sacred law.
a. The body of teachings expounded by the Buddha.
b. Knowledge of or duty to undertake conduct set forth by the Buddha as a way to enlightenment.
c. One of the basic, minute elements from which all things are made.
[Sanskrit dharmaḥ, statute, law; see dher- 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.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.