How did the two-part compound 打坐 come to mean "seated meditation"?

What is the function of the character 打 in that compound?

  • "打" in this context is equivalent to the English, "to be" Therefore 打坐, in the non-technical sense means "to be seated" However, technically, 打坐 as a compound means "seated meditation", "seated" because there is also "standing meditation" called 站桩, (Zhàn zhuāng), and Tàijí quán (太極拳) can be taken as "moving meditation" As someone mentioned 打坐 go together as a compound because it has no other meaning except "meditation" Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 3:53

3 Answers 3


According to the 《佛光大辭典》,


指跏趺而坐 (to sit cross-legged),使心入定 (to settle the mind)。

即指坐禪 (za-zen, to meditate)。

「打」,動作行為之意 (means to do or to act)。

According to the 《汉语大词典》,

打 (36)

谓从事某种工作 (to do some kind of work) 或做出某种行为 (to make some kind of behavior)。

Therefore, the 打 in 打坐 means "to do", and 打坐 is "to do the 靜坐" (to sit still with a peaceful mind).

Since the purpose of 打坐 is to settle the mind, it refers to meditation.

(dan chose 打(38) in the 《汉语大词典》.)

  • Just to open a bit discussion. I think 打(38) is more appropriete. If you take 打(36), then 坐 has to be a noun word. The only case 坐 could be a noun is when it means 'seat', as in "就坐". I think 坐 in 打坐 should be a verb denoting "to sit", not a noun 'seat'. So, 打(38) make more sense here, because it can take another verb to form a compound word, as in 打扫,打扮, where both 扫 and 扮 are verbs.
    – dan
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 15:34
  • @dan Looking at the synonym「打禪」, the target of「打」should be a noun.「禪」is a noun meaning Buddhist meditation (see en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dhyana).
    – dROOOze
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 0:43
  • @droooze Yeah, 禅 is a noun for sure. 坐, to sit, should be a verb. 坐 is a noun only as 座位.
    – dan
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 1:03

One of sense of 打 is:

与某些动词结合为复词,表示进行之意。E.g. 打扫;打扮

It denotes the continuity of an action. So, 打坐 means sit and continue it on and on, that is, meditation.


打坐 is a whole word meaning meditation. If you separate the character, it doesn't mean anything related to meditation. 打 as a verb means hit.

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