The yuan (sign: ¥; code: CNY; Chinese: 元 yuán [ɥɛ̌n] ( listen)) is the base unit of a number of modern Chinese currencies. The yuan is the primary unit of account of the Renminbi.
A yuán (元) is also known colloquially as a kuài (块 "lump", originally of silver). One yuán is divided into 10 jiǎo (角) or colloquially máo (毛 "feather"). One jiǎo is divided into 10 fēn (分).
The symbol for the yuan (元) is also used to refer to the currency units of Japan and Korea, and is used to translate the currency unit dollar as well as some other currencies; for example, the US dollar is called Měiyuán (美元), or American yuan, in Chinese, and the euro is called Oūyuán (欧元), or European yuan. When used in English in the context of the modern foreign exchange market, the Chinese yuan most commonly refers to the renminbi (CNY), which traded for US$0.1575 on August 31, 2012.
Etymology and characters
Yuan in Chinese literally means a "round object" or "round coin". During the Qing Dynasty, the yuan was a round and silver coin.
The character for yuan has two forms—a less formal, 元, and a more formal, 圓 or 圆. The pronunciation of the two in Mandarin Chinese is the same—yuán. However, in Wu Chinese, as inherited from traditional Chinese pronunciation, 元 (nyoe) and 圓 (yoe) remain distinct phonetically. The Japanese yen was originally also written 圓, which was simplified to 円 (en) with the promulgation of the Tōyō kanji in 1946. The Korean won used to be written 圓 (won) some time after World War II and as 圜 from 1902 to 1910, but is now written as 원 (won) in Hangul exclusively, in both North and South Korea. The Hong Kong dollar, Macanese pataca and New Taiwan dollar are all written as 圓. In People's Republic of China, using '￥' as well as RMB to denote the currency is common (e.g. ￥100元 or RMB 100元).
In many parts of China, renminbi (人民幣/人民币 rénmínbì) are counted in kuai (simplified Chinese: 块; traditional Chinese: 塊; pinyin: kuài; literally "piece") rather than "yuan".
In Cantonese, widely spoken in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, kuài, jiǎo, and fēn are called mān (蚊), hòuh (毫), and sīn (仙), respectively. Sīn is a word borrowed into Cantonese from the British cent.