primary meaning “foundation”, from this applied in the foll. senses:

  1. support, help, footing, expedient, anything to be depended upon as a means of achieving what is desired, i.e. basis of operation, chance Snp.1069 (= ālambana, nissaya, upanissaya Cnd.132); Pv.i.4#1 (yaṃ kiñc’ ārammaṇaṃ katvā) ārammaṇaṃ labhati (+ otāraṃ labhati) to get the chance SN.ii.268; SN.iv.185
  2. condition, ground, cause, means esp. a cause of desire or clinging to life, pl. causes of rebirth (interpreted by taṇhā at Mnd.429), lust Snp.474 (= paccayā Snp-a.410), Snp.945 (= Mnd.429); Kp-a.23; Dhp-a.i.288 (sappāy˚); Pv-a.279
  3. a basis for the working of the mind & intellect; i.e. sense-object, object of thought or consciousness, the outward constituent in the relation of subject & object, object in general. In this meaning of “relation” it is closely connected with āyatana (see āyatana3), so that it sometimes takes its place, it is also similar to visaya. Cpd. 3 distinguishes a 5 fold object viz. citta, cetasika, pasāda- & sukhuma-rūpa, paññatti nibbāna. See on term especially; Cpd. 3, 14; Dhs trsl. xli.& 209; A 1 sq.; AN.iv.385; Snp.506; Pts.i.57 sq. Pts.i.84 (four ā.); Pts.ii.97, Pts.ii.118, Pts.ii.143; Dhs.1 (dhamm˚ object of ideation), Dhs.180, Dhs.584, Dhs.1186 et passim; Vb.12, Vb.79, Vb.92 Vb.319, Vb.332 (four); Ne.191 (six); Vism.87 sq., Vism.375 (˚sankantika), Vism.430 sq. (in var. sets with ref. to var. objects) Vism.533; Dhs-a.48, Dhs-a.127; Vv-a.11, Vv-a.38
    ■ rūpārammaṇa lit dependence on form, i.e. object of sight, visible form especially striking appearance, visibility, sight DN.iii.228; SN.iii.53; AN.i.82; Ja.i.304; Ja.ii.439, Ja.ii.442; Pv-a.265. ārammaṇaṃ karoti to make it an object (of intellection or intention), to make it one’s concern (cp. Pv.i.4#1, above 1)-ārammaṇa -kusala clever in the objects (of meditation SN.iii.266; ā˚ -paccayatā relation of presentation (i.e. of subj. & obj.) Ne.80
  4. (-˚) (adj.) being supported by, depending on, centred in, concentrated upon Pv-a.8 (nissay˚), Pv-a.98 (ek˚); Vv-a.119 (buddh˚ pīti rapture centred in the Buddha).

cp. Sk. ālambana, lamb, but in meaning confounded with rambh (see rabhati)