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命 is often translated as "destiny."
Sometimes this character is simply translated as "life" but more in terms of one's lot in life. In certain context, this can mean command or decree (generally from a king or emperor). Of course, such a decree are part of fate and lead you to fulfill your destiny.
In Chinese, this word leans toward the fate or destiny definition.
In Korean, it is usually read simply as "life."
In Japanese, it can mean all definitions shown above, depending on context.
See Also: Good Fortune
These two characters contain the ideas of fate. But this is specifically the fate or destiny that brings two people together.
緣份 / 緣分 is like the chance meeting of two people that leads some time later to marriage.
This could also be the chance meeting of two business people, who become partners and build a huge and successful company.
Basically, this is an idea often associated with a fateful meeting leading to good fortune.
Some will define this word as, "The destiny brings you two together," or "Meant to be."
Note: The second character can also be written without the left radical, as shown to the right. If you have a preference, please let use know in the special instructions for your project. There is no difference in meaning or pronunciation, just two (alternate) ways to write the same character.
These two characters contain the ideas of "fate," "destiny," "fortune" and "luck." You can also say that it means "what life throws at you" or "your lot in life" because the first character contains the idea of "life" or "living."
This version is really only used in Chinese. There's another version with just the characters reversed that is more universal. In fact, just skip this one. The opposite character order is better.
These two characters contain the ideas of "fate," "destiny," "fortune" and "luck" in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
運命 is often defined as "a person's fate" in various dictionaries.
These two characters can be reversed (written in either order) and yield roughly the same meaning.
This particular character order happens to be more common in old Korean and less common in modern Chinese.
天意 is a way to express destiny in a slightly religious way. Literally this means "Heaven's Wish" or "Heaven's Desire" with the idea of fate and destiny being derived as well. It suggests that your destiny comes from God / Heaven and that your path has already been chosen by a higher power.
My Japanese dictionary defines this word as "divine will" or "providence" but it also holds the meaning of "the will of the emperor." Therefore, I don't suggest this phrase if your audience is Japanese - it feels a little strange in Japanese anyway.
These two characters mean, "Destiny that brings lovers together." It can also be translated technically as, "Predestined matrimonial affinity" (wow, talk about taking the romance out of this word - that was from the Oxford C-E dictionary).
Basically, this is talking about the fate (or karma) that brings a husband and wife together. I would translate this as "Together by fate" or "Joined by destiny" but in the context of marriage. You could use this for non-married lovers but the first character has a suggestion that this refers to those that are married.
This literally translates as, "the red string" or "the red thread" in Japanese but the real meaning is much deeper...
In Japanese culture, it's believed that fate, destiny, or karma joins lovers by an unseen string, tied around one little finger of each. 赤い糸 is how soul mates fine and are drawn to each other.
The Japanese concept of the red thread of fate, by most estimations, comes from Chinese folklore, where it's known as 姻緣紅線. The only difference being that in China, the celestial red thread is tied around the ankles of the lovers (versus what is usually represented to be the pinky finger in Japan).
因緣 is the Buddhist concept of a chance meeting or an opportunity that presents itself by fate.
Sometimes this is used to describe a cosmic chain of events or cause and effect.
It also is used to describe predestined relationships between people - and sometimes married couples (although if you want one about marriage, try this: Fate / Destiny of Lovers.
因緣 can also be translated as origin, karma, destiny, affinity, connection, and relation. This all depends on context - seen alone on a wall scroll, this will be read with a "fate / chance" meaning by a Chinese person, or a Korean person who can read Hanja.
The more complex definition of this word would be, "Direct causes and indirect conditions, which underlie the actions of all things."
This concept is known as nidana in the original Sanskrit. Also sometimes presented as hetupratyaya (or "hetu and prataya") which I believe is Pali.
Note: Japanese will tend to use this version of the second Kanji:
If you order this from the Japanese master calligrapher, expect that you'll get this version. However, this word often carries a negative connotation in Japanese (bad things happen), as it is used that way in a certain Japanese idiom. Therefore, this may not be the best choice if Japanese is your target language.
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|dài sī dì nī|
dai4 si1 di4 ni1
dai si di ni
|tai ssu ti ni
|命||inochi / mei||mìng / ming4 / ming|
|緣份 / 緣分|
缘份 / 缘分
|yuán fèn / yuan2 fen4 / yuan fen / yuanfen||yüan fen / yüanfen|
Love by Fate
|mìng yùn / ming4 yun4 / ming yun / mingyun||ming yün / mingyün|
|un mei / unmei||yùn mìng / yun4 ming4 / yun ming / yunming||yün ming / yünming|
|Destiny Determined by Heaven||天意||teni||tiān yì / tian1 yi4 / tian yi / tianyi||t`ien i / tieni / tien i|
|The Karma/Fate/Destiny that Brings Lovers Together||姻緣|
|yīn yuán / yin1 yuan2 / yin yuan / yinyuan||yin yüan / yinyüan|
|Such is Life|
Such is Destiny
|zhè jiù shì mìng|
zhe4 jiu4 shi4 ming4
zhe jiu shi ming
|che chiu shih ming
|The Red String||赤い糸||akai ito / akaiito|
因缘 / 因縁
|in nen / innen||yīn yuán / yin1 yuan2 / yin yuan / yinyuan||yin yüan / yinyüan|
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.