I wonder what would be the better way to represent the idea of "meeting someone unplanned / by chance".

Or is it just a matter of one's preference?

I want the sentence to be least ambiguous but most accurate in one single sentence, and if possible, regardless of context.


The following sentences should all mean "I met him at the street (by chance)"

If I say 街で彼に出会った。 It got a romantic colour that it seems love is about to happen.

I personally belief the most neutral way would be 偶然・たまたま街で彼と会った。

But one could also say 街で彼と遇った・逢った・遭った。The first one feels like if I've met an event instead of a person. The second one feels like some sort of destiny is behind all this。 The third one feels like if I hate the person I've met.

Or is 街で彼に会った good enough?

I wonder what is the best.

Please provide your answer with explanation / evidence. m( )m

Thank you for your help!


If you are Japanese, which is the most common way and how would you say it?

2 Answers 2


the better way to represent the idea of "meeting someone unplanned / by chance".


This Japanese sentence of yours is perfect. Both 偶然, たまたま works fine.
I think, as a native speaker, 偶然 is the safest for any occasion. If you want a relaxed feeling to your words, たまたま might be better. Both are commonly used in talks regardless of casual or formal nature.

Or is 街で彼に会った good enough?

It could sound like planned. If it's 街で彼に行き会った, this means unplanned. We often add expressions like 偶然 or たまたま to this too, though it seems to be actually repeating the same thing.


遇った is not commonly used, though it seems this is the most accurate one for what you are looking. 逢った has a nuance of planned, and is also usually seen only on printed literature, avoid it for business letters. 遭った is for events not for people.

If I say 街で彼に出会った。 It got a romantic colour that it seems love is about to happen.

It is not necessarily romantic encounter, but 出会う means you come to know someone or something; ex. 彼は若い頃に天職{てんしょく}に出会った.

  • ご回答ありがとうございました。 行き会うという表現は初耳です。 会いたくない人とあった時は「遭う」を使う事は間違いですか? 出会った対象が人としたら何だか運命的な感じはしませんか? (小説読み過ぎかなぁ)
    – ed9w2in6
    Jul 25, 2017 at 10:31
  • 会いたくない人に「遭う」を使うのは笑いを誘うための一種、独創的な使い方で普通に使う例は見かけないです。かなりの皮肉となりますから、ごく親しい中でのやり取りで使うのにとどめておくことをお薦めします。:)
    – karlalou
    Jul 25, 2017 at 14:16
  • 勉強になりました ありがとうございます
    – ed9w2in6
    Jul 26, 2017 at 9:12

There are a couple of ways to express this.

鉢合{はちあ}わせする means exactly what you're asking for: a chance meeting (lit. the bumping of heads). Note this is often used in the negative sense.

On that same note, 出会ってしまう・会ってしまう expresses a negative connotation (not wanting to meet).

You are correct in your use of 偶然・たまたま(出)会う. There is also ばったり(出)会う, which is also very common in everyday conversation.

There is also 遭遇{そうぐう}する (encounter), but sounds a bit wordy, something I'd expect to hear from a military or news report. (edit: it also tends to be used in the bad sense, like "encountering the enemy" or "running into a bear".)

  • 「遭遇」って悪い意味で使う方が多いではないでしょうか?
    – ed9w2in6
    Jul 25, 2017 at 10:02
  • @ed9w2in6 確かに、「敵との遭遇」「熊に遭遇した」とか、悪い意味で使われることは多いですね…
    – Jimmy
    Jul 25, 2017 at 17:39
  • ご回答 ありがとうございます。
    – ed9w2in6
    Jul 26, 2017 at 9:14

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