Chinese Names

Chinese names consist of a surname (xìng 姓) and a given name (míng 名 or míngzì 名字), usually presented in that order. When transcribed into western writing, the characters of the given name are sometimes written separately. Thus Mao Zedong is often written as Mao Ze Dong.

Traditionally, Chinese could assume additional names at other times in their life. These include the 字 (called a courtesy or style name), acquired upon reaching maturity, and the hào 號 (called an art name), a self-selected nickname. These types of names have become rare since the latter half of the 20th century.

Chinese given names usually consist of two syllables (though it is also common to only use one). Those syllables can be any of the thousands of Chinese characters so the combinations are almost limitless. In practice some characters are chosen more often than others, such as Mei "beautiful" for girls. Sometimes the first character of the given name is shared by all members of a generation in a family (siblings, cousins, etc) - see generation name. Chinese parents do not typically name babies after relatives or famous people.

On this site

List of Chinese names and meanings