feng shui

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A luopan, a magnetic compass used by practitioners of feng shui (sense 2) to determine the precise direction of a structure or other item.

Borrowed from Mandarin 風水 (fēngshuǐ, feng shui (Chinese system of geomancy), literally wind and water):[1] (fēng, wind) + (shuǐ, water).



feng shui (uncountable)

  1. (Chinese mythology) A system of spiritual energies, both good and evil, present in the natural features of landscapes.
    • 1869 March 15, “Summary of news from the Far East. China. Tientsin.”, in The London and China Telegraph, Japan Herald, and Journal of the Eastern Archipelago, volume XI, number 315, French mail edition, London: Printed for the proprietors by Richard Kindee, [], and published by James West [], published 7 June 1869, OCLC 759782421, page 258, column 2:
      On my telling two missionaries here lately that this Government would not allow a road to be made to their coal mines because it would obstruct the Feng-shui, they only laughed at it. [...] The upper classes may have Feng-shui, and use it when it suits them, as the Government do; but they also, when it suits their purpose, have no difficulty in overcoming the Feng Shui.
    • 1873, Ernest J. Eitel [i.e., Ernst Johann Eitel], “Introductory”, in Feng-shui: Or, The Rudiments of Natural Science in China, London: Trübner & Co., OCLC 33988289, page 2:
      When the Hongkong Government cut a road, now known as the Gap, to the Happy Valley, the Chinese community was thrown into a state of abject terror and fright, on account of the disturbance which this amputation of the dragon's limbs would cause to the Feng-shui of Hongkong; and when many of the engineers, employed at the cutting, died of the Hongkong fever, and the foreign houses already built in the Happy Valley had to be deserted on account of malaria, the Chinese triumphantly declared, it was an act of retributory justice on the part of Feng-shui.
    • 1874 March, F. S. T., “Feng-Shui”, in The Cornhill Magazine, volume XXIX, number 171, London: Smith, Elder & Co., [], OCLC 561748243, page 343:
      Feng-Shui views heaven and earth, the whole universe, as one great fetich, animated by a blind unintelligent but omnipotent vitality, a vitality in which man shares, and of which, by the exercise of his intelligent faculties, he may procure a larger and better share than would otherwise fall to his lot. As a practical art, Feng-Shui is the terrestrial sister of Astrology, a mode of deciphering the destinies of an individual as included in the vast complications of the universal whole, but in this respect the earthly sister excels her star-gazing prototype, that by means of Feng-Shui a man learns not only what his fate is, but how it may be modified to his own advantage.
    • 1878 September 15, “Mr. [M. M.] De Lano to Mr. Holcombe. [Inclosure 3 in No. 61; No. 111; The Wu Shih Shan Riot. Placards.]”, in Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, with the Annual Message of the President, December 1, 1879. [], Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, published 1879, OCLC 1060917057, page 187:
      The following are translated copies of placards which have been extensively posted in the city and suburbs during the past week: [...] "[...] On recovering our Feng Shui land, then the state will be prosperous, the people peaceable, the winds moderate, and the rains favorable. Let all the people exert themselves."
    • 1913 December 20, “The Memories of the Unattainable”, in The North-China Herald and Supreme Court & Consular Gazette: The Weekly Edition of the North-China Daily News, volume CIX (New Series), number 2419, Shanghai: Printed and published at the offices of the North-China Daily News & Herald, Ld., OCLC 662525861, pages 904–905:
      The question of the Channel Tunnel has been discussed from many points of view, commercial, naval, military; and all that can be said on the subject from a scientific or statistical standpoint has probably been exhausted. But the final clinching argument is that the tunnel would destroy our insular position; and it is there that the Press carries public opinion with it. We cannot have our insular position destroyed. The sea is England's glory and the wind and the waves her portion and her heritage, and shall these advantages be abated for the sake of a hole under the sea and a devil carriage to roar through it? Never, says John Bull; and doubtless his instinct is right. But if that isn't belief in feng-shui, which means precisely wind and water, one humble scribe would like to know what is.
    • 1968 July, Baruch Boxer, “Space, Change and Feng-shui in Tsuen Wan’s Urbanization”, in K. Ishwaran, editor, Journal of Asian and African Studies, volume 3, number 3–4, Leiden: E[vert] J[an] Brill, DOI:10.1163/15685217-90007006, ISSN 0021-9096, OCLC 1100867331, pages 231–232:
      An example of public acknowledgement by Government of the legitimacy of feng-shui disputes in the Tsuen Wan area [in Hong Kong] concerned the objections of villagers in Sheung Kwai Chung to the construction of a salt water service reservoir. It was claimed that the construction of this reservoir on a ridge behind the village would adversely affect the village's feng-shui because the veins of the "green dragon" protecting the village would be severed.
  2. (by extension) An ancient Chinese system of geomancy used to design buildings and graves, and to determine the spatial arrangement of things, according to rules about the flow of energy, aimed at achieving harmony with the environment, promoting good fortune and wealth, etc.
    • 1875 March, “Art VI.—1. The Works of Confucius, Containing the Original Text with a Translation. By J[oshua] Marshman. Serampore. 1809. [...]”, in Edward I[sidore] Sears, editor, The National Quarterly Review, volume XXX, number LX, New York, N.Y.: Edward I. Sears, editor and proprietor, OCLC 503286504, pages 343–344:
      Feng-Shui has long been the puzzle of European residents in China. It is the principle which is given as a reason for every opposition to modern improvements, and which commands the devotions of the Chinese to such an extent that they will commit murder to avenge its neglect. [...] This Feng-Shui is, however, nothing more than the development of the principles enunciated in the Yih-king, and expounded by Confucius. [...] Therefore, Feng-Shui requires the tombs of the deceased to be on specially fortunate ground, where there shall be a proper combination of male and female, the male being represented by hilly country, the female by gently undulating ground. At the junction of these two grounds, where they form a bend like the elbow of a man's arm, is the propitious site for tombs and also for cities. Such a site has been chosen for the city of Canton.
    • 1986, William R. LaFleur, “Inns and Hermitages: The Structure of Impermanence”, in The Karma of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan, 1st paperback edition, Berkeley; Los Angeles, Calif.; London: University of California Press, →ISBN, page 64:
      In setting up his hut, he gives no heed to the customary consideration of geomancy in the Chinese tradition of feng shui: "I built my house without consulting any diviners."
    • 1996, Helen Fielding, “Saturday, 11 November”, in Bridget Jones’s Diary, London: Picador, →ISBN; republished London: Penguin Books, 1999 (2010 printing), →ISBN:
      Thought this might be the perfect time to do the Feng Shui so went out and bought Cosmopolitan. Carefully, using the drawing in Cosmo, I mapped the ba-gua of the flat. Had a flash of horrified realization. There was a wastepaper basket in my Helpful Friends Corner. No wonder bloody Tom had disappeared.
    • 1996, Andrew Grzeskowiak, “The Work Environment”, in Barbara Szerlip, editor, Passport Hong Kong: Your Pocket Guide to Hong Kong Business, Customs & Etiquette (Passport to the World), San Rafael, Calif.: World Trade Press, →ISBN, page 34:
      No office building, store, residence or place of worship is built in Hong Kong without first consulting a feng shui man. [...] According to tradition, every structure in China rests on some part of the Earth Dragon, over which flows Heaven-Earth-Air currents. A feng shui professional consults these currents to determine on which part of the Dragon a building rests.
    • 2003, Graham Parkes, “Winds, Waters, and Earth Energies: Fengshui and Awareness of Place”, in Helaine Selin and Arne Kalland, editors, Nature across Cultures: Views of Nature and the Environment in Non-Western Cultures (Science across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Science; 4), Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, DOI:10.1007/978-94-017-0149-5, →ISBN, page 186:
      [A] large number of people in the United States and Western Europe are paying fengshui "experts" large sums of money to align their expensive coffee tables with their even more expensive sofas, in the hope of bringing more wealth, and perhaps some happiness, into their already affluent households. This seems a gross perversion of the basic spirit of fengshui – which would say that happiness, and certainly some wealth, would come more easily if these people simply sold off all the furniture and other clutter that's obstructing their contact with their natural surroundings.
    • 2004, Richard Webster, “The Bathroom”, in 101 Feng Shui Tips for Your Home, St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publishers, →ISBN, page 93:
      The toilet and bathroom are extremely important rooms in the house as they are places where water (money) drains away. The ch'i should be allowed to flow smoothly in and out of these rooms without impediment. Consequently, overly ornate bathrooms are not good from a feng shui point of view as they tend to hold the ch'i inside the room.
    • 2011, Michael Y. Mak; Albert T. So, “Case Studies: Sustainable Design and Feng Shui”, in Scientific Feng Shui for the Built Environment: Fundamentals and Case Studies, Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press, →ISBN, page 153, column 1:
      As can be seen, there are similarities and differences between sustainable design and Feng Shui concepts. From the analysis, the sustainable design concepts aimed at the creation of enjoyable space for human interactions and balance between the natural and the built environment, can be identified with the Feng Shui concepts of unity of heaven and humanity, and the Yin and Yang harmony.

Alternative forms[edit]




feng shui (third-person singular simple present feng shuis, present participle feng shuiing, simple past and past participle feng shuied)

  1. (transitive) To arrange a space according to the rules of feng shui.
    I’m going to have my bedroom feng shuied. Maybe this will finally bring me good luck.
    • 1998, John A. Barnett, “Out Publicly: The Professional and Personal of Gay Public Librarianship”, in James V[inson] Carmichael, Jr., editor, Daring to Find Our Names: The Search for Lesbigay Library History (Beta Phi Mu Monograph Series; no. 5), Westport, Conn.; London: Greenwood Press, →ISBN, ISSN 1041-2751, page 217:
      Library school seemed like gay intellectual paradise to me. After years of unsplitting infinitives and feng shui-ing misplaced modifiers, I sheathed my editor's blue pencil and prepared to sharpen my mind.
    • 1999, Richard Webster, “Health”, in Feng Shui for Success & Happiness, St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publishers, →ISBN, pages 55–56:
      [...] I have seen all these things, and much more, in homes I have been asked to feng shui. It is not surprising that the health of people living in environments such as these are ultimately affected.
    • 2006, Douglas Coupland, JPod, London: Bloomsbury, →ISBN; paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury USA, 2007, →ISBN, page 206:
      Your brother just found me this great house in West Van—up on the hill. [...] It's got a commanding city view, two karaoke rooms and it's been feng-shuied by a Grand Master.
    • 2011, Sophie Keller, “Introduction”, in How Happy is Your Home?: 50 Great Tips to Bring More Health, Wealth and Joy into Your Home, Don Mills, Ont.: Harlequin Enterprises, →ISBN, page xi:
      Now, I'm not saying that this man met his wife solely because I feng shuied his house or that my client was offered a job purely because of the fresh flowers, but you would be surprised at how many times I hear similar stories from people whose places I have feng shuied.
    • 2014 July, Molly Harper, Better Homes and Hauntings, 1st paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Pocket Books, →ISBN, page 82:
      "Nina?" Cindy touched her arm. "You OK?" / "Oh, no." Nina put her hands up in a warding-off gesture. "Uh, I was just feng shuied last week.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ feng-shui, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1933; “feng shui, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]


Alternative forms[edit]



feng shui n (uncountable)

  1. feng shui
    Al voor de eerste helft van de 15de eeuw was de gehele nieuwe stad klaar, geheel volgens de regels van Feng Shui.[1] — Already by the first half of the 15th century, the whole new city was completed, entirely according to the rules of feng shui.



feng shui m (uncountable)

  1. feng shui