The Sanskrit term Upaniṣad (u = at, pa = foot, nishat =sitting down) translates to "sitting at the foot/feet of", referring to the student sitting down near the teacher while receiving esoteric knowledge. Monier-Williams' Sanskrit Dictionary adds that, "According to native authorities Upanishad means 'setting to rest ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the supreme spirit.'"
Shri Adi Shankara explains in his commentary on the Kaṭha and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that the word means Ātmavidyā, that is, "knowledge of the Self", or Brahmavidyā "knowledge of Brahma". Other dictionary meanings include "esoteric doctrine" and "secret doctrine". The word appears in the verses of many Upanishads, such as the fourth verse of the 13th volume in first chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad. Max Muller as well as Paul Deussen translate the word Upanishad in these verses as "secret doctrine", Robert Hume translates it as "mystic meaning", while Patrick Olivelle translates it as "hidden connections".