The Meaning of Yin Yang: What It Is and How To Use It

You have probably seen the yin yang symbol. Do you know what this symbol means? Keep reading to learn more about the history and meaning of yin yang.

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The yin yang symbol is one of the most famous symbols of all time, but few know its true meaning and origin. This article will cover the meaning and history of the term yin yang and different ways to discuss the concepts of yin and yang.

What Does the Word Yin Yang Mean?

According to Thought Co and Britannica, yin and yang refers to the belief that the universe is governed by a sense of cosmic balance and duality of cosmic energies that are present in nature. This philosophy asserts that the universe is made of forces that compete with and complement one another like male and female, sun and moon, or dark and light. 

Yin energy is feminine, negative, dark, and inward. The yin side represents Earth and order. Yang energy is masculine, bright, positive, and outward. The yang side represents heaven and chaos. According to Chinese culture and religion, the opposing forces create balance in the natural world.

The yin-yang symbol — also called the Tai Chi symbol — is a circle divided in half via a curved line. One half of the circle is white and the other is black. Each half has a smaller dot of the opposite color in its center. The light swirl has a black dot, and the dark swirl has a white dot. This symbol represents how the two forces co-exist and create balance.

What Is the Etymology of the Word Yin Yang?

The concepts of yin and yang date back to the Yin dynasty and Western Zhou dynasty, which took place from 1400 and1100 and 1100 and 771 BCE, respectively. In the 9th century BCE, King Wen wrote about yin and yang in the Book of Changes, which is also known as the I Ching or Zhouyi.

This concept of balance and flow in nature grew in popularity during the Warring States Period and the Spring and Autumn Period. This concept influenced Daoism, founder of Taoism Lao Tzu, and founder of Confucianism Confucius. In modern Asian cultures, the concepts of yin and yang creating balance and harmony influence things like feng shui, politics, behavior, beliefs, traditional Chinese medicine, art, science, and more.

The yin yang symbol was invented in 600 BCE in ancient China. It was originally used in Chinese time-keeping and measures the position of the sun using the shadow or shade a pole creates. For example, yang represented the winter solstice, and yin represented the summer solstice. 

Yin yang was even the foundation of the Yinyang School of Cosmology, founded by Zou Yan. The scholars of this 3rd century BCE Chinese school studied yin yang as it relates to astronomy. While it may seem like a paradox that two opposing forces can create unity, it is the key to finding balance.

What Are Translations of Yin Yang?

While yin yang is a Chinese term, it refers to a concept of balance and duality. If you mention yin yang in another language, someone might not know what you mean. You can use these translations of balance from Nice Translator to refer to a similar concept to yin yang. 

If you are trying to communicate about harmony and equilibrium with someone who does not speak English, you can use these translations to get started and help you communicate.

  • Swahili: Mizani
  • Portuguese (Portugal): Saldo
  • Gujarati: સંતુલન
  • Ukrainian: баланс
  • Hebrew: איזון
  • Polish: balansować
  • Basque: hondar
  • Estonian: tasakaal
  • Icelandic: jafnvægi
  • Portuguese (Brazil): Saldo
  • Malayalam: ബാക്കി
  • Urdu: بقیہ
  • Kannada: ಸಮತೋಲನ
  • Slovak: vyváženie
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 平衡
  • Telugu: సంతులనం
  • Swedish: balans
  • Russian: остаток средств
  • Greek: ισορροπία
  • Danish: balance
  • French: équilibre
  • Chinese (PRC): 平衡
  • Indonesian: keseimbangan
  • Hindi: संतुलन
  • Filipino: balanse
  • Turkish: denge
  • German: Balance
  • Bulgarian: баланс
  • Slovenian: ravnovesje
  • Bengali: ভারসাম্য
  • Malay: seimbang
  • Czech: Zůstatek
  • Marathi: शिल्लक
  • Romanian: echilibru
  • Hungarian: egyensúly
  • Lithuanian: Balansas.
  • Amharic: ሚዛን
  • Thai: สมดุล
  • Croatian: ravnoteža
  • Dutch: balans
  • Vietnamese: sự cân bằng
  • Spanish: equilibrio
  • Serbian: равнотежа
  • Tamil: சமநிலை
  • Welsh: mantol
  • Korean: 균형
  • Finnish: saldo
  • Catalan: equilibri
  • Italian: equilibrio
  • Arabic: الرصيد
  • Japanese: 残高
  • Norwegian: balansere
  • Latvian: līdzsvars

What Are Synonyms of the Word Yin Yang?

Power Thesaurus provides many related words to the term yin yang. All of the below words refer to balance and unity.

  • balance
  • balancing
  • compensation
  • composure
  • correspondence
  • counterbalance
  • counterpoise
  • credit
  • difference
  • dividend
  • equal
  • equality
  • equanimity
  • equilibration
  • equilibrium
  • equipoise
  • equity
  • equivalence
  • evenness
  • excess
  • fairness
  • harmony
  • leavings
  • leftover
  • match
  • moderation
  • normality
  • order
  • overage
  • parity
  • poise
  • profit
  • proportion
  • rationality
  • reason
  • regularity
  • remainder
  • remains
  • remnant
  • residual
  • residue
  • residuum
  • rest
  • saneness
  • sanity
  • scale
  • self-control
  • self-possession
  • soundness
  • stability
  • stasis
  • steadiness
  • surplus
  • symmetry
  • uniformity

What Are Antonyms of Yin Yang?

Power Thesaurus also provides words that imply the opposite of balance and yin yang.

  • aggravate
  • allow
  • asymmetry
  • blow
  • blunder
  • break
  • chaos
  • coddle
  • come to a conclusion
  • corrupt
  • craziness
  • crests and troughs
  • crush
  • damage
  • demolish
  • depress
  • destroy
  • disagree
  • disequilibrium
  • disproportion
  • disrupt
  • dog’s dinner
  • ebb and flow
  • emotional instability
  • emotional lability
  • emotional roller coaster
  • emotionalism
  • foolishness
  • goof
  • greed
  • harm
  • heebie-jeebies
  • highs and lows
  • hinder
  • hurt
  • imbalance
  • impair
  • indulge
  • inequality
  • injure
  • injustice
  • insanity
  • instability
  • keel over
  • madness
  • maintain
  • mar
  • mistake
  • mood changes
  • mood swing
  • paranoia
  • precariousness
  • remain
  • ruin
  • silliness
  • unbalance
  • unsettle
  • vandalize


Yin yang is a concept in Chinese mythology, Chinese cosmology, and both modern and ancient Chinese thought. Yin yang refers to the balance in the universe that is created by the duality of opposing forces like femininity and masculinity. 

In ancient Chinese philosophy, the yin yang symbol is represented by a white area and a black area of a circle, each of which has a dot of the other color in the center.


  1. Balance | Nice Translator 
  2. yin-yang | Definition, Meaning, & Facts | Britannica
  3. What Is the Meaning of Yin and Yang? | Thought Co 
  4. Balance Synonyms | Power Thesaurus  
  5. Balance Antonyms | Power Thesaurus