The English word ‘reality’ (from the Latin res, "matter” or “thing") is very misleading and says the opposite of what “reality” actually is. The Latin 'res' is a very deceptive word, it makes you think about something static, finite.

It’s etymologically very interesting to look at reality from a Norwegian perspective. The Norwegian words are more dynamic and the reason might be that Norwegian is a highly ambiguous language.

We have two official versions of Norwegian, and so we have two words for 'reality'. One is 'røyndom'. 'Røyn' means something you can experience, something you can learn, but also something that takes a toll, something that gets you worn down. It's not static, but a dynamic concept, an expression of change. Its meaning is similar to the meaning of suffering.

The other, the most common word for reality, is 'virkelighet' (like the German 'wirklichkeit'). 'Virke' means functioning, so 'virkelighet' is "that which happens when it's 'working/functioning' ".

‘Virke' also means 'seem'. If you want to say in Norwegian "it seems to be that way, but it's not", you use the same word! (det virker som ...") I think it's interesting and an example of etymology clarifying philosophy.

What are the Pali and Sanskrit words for reality? Is "reality" an accurate translation? What English word – like the Norwegian ones – could be used instead to better represent what actually is the nature of reality?


1 Answer 1


"Yatha butha" and "Thathata" are pali terms for Reality.

By referring SuttaCentral website,

Definition for the pāli word Yathābhūtaṃ

yathābhūtaṃ adv. in truth; in reality; in its real essence.

As Butha,

Definition for the pāli word Bhucca

bhūta] only in cpd. yathā—bhuccaṁ (nt. adv.) as it is, that which really is, really (=yathā bhūtaṁ) Th 2, 143 … 143. See under yathā.

As Thatha

Definition for the pāli word Tathatta

M i.468.—abl. tathattā in truth, really Sn 520 sq. (cp. M Vastu iii.397). tathatta nt. the state of … Tathatta (nt.) [*tathātvaṁ] "the state of being so," the truth, Nibbāna; only in foll. phrases: (a)

Most common terms used to clarify reality are "Anicha, Dukka, Anatha". "Sunya and Pathichasamuthpanna" also can be used.


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