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Yuanfen (緣分 in pinyin: yuan2 fen4) is Buddhist-related Chinese concept that means the predetermined principle that dictates a person's relationships and encounters, usually positive, such as the affinity among friends and lovers. In Buddhism, it is believed that a person's yuanfen depends on his/her actions in the the lives prior to this reincarnation.


  • When one meets a person (of either gender) who is hard to find, one can exclaim: "It is yuanfen that has brought us together!"
  • When one encounters another repeatedly in various locations that it seems to be beyond coincidence, one can refer to yuanfen.
  • On the contrary, when two persons who know each other (maybe as penpals) but never get a chance to meet face-to-face, it can be said that their yuanfen is too superficial or thin.


Often yuanfen is said to be the equivalent of "fate" (as is with the title of a 1984 movie starring Leslie Cheung) or "destiny". However, these words do not have the element of the past playing a role in deciding the outcome of the uncertain future. The most common Chinese term for "fate" or "destiny" is mingyun (命運 ming4 yun4), literally "the turn of events in life".

"Providence" and "predestination" are also not exact translations, because these words imply that the things happen by the will of God or gods, whereas yuanfen does not necesarily involve divine intervention.

See also: Chinese social relations

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