Chinese Names

A modern Chinese name consists 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 often written separately. Thus Mao Zedong is often given 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.

Chinese given names usually consist of two syllables (though it is increasingly 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.

On this site

List of Chinese names and meanings