Chinese surnames or last names are pinyin translations of China’s most famous and common family names. In this post, we have provided 100 commonly used Chinese surnames and their meaning. While some of these names have a toponymic origin, others have their roots in clan, occupational, or dynasty names. Read on.
List Of Common Chinese Surnames Or Family Names
A surname of Mongol origin, Bai, means “white.”
A popular Chinese surname, Cai has its name derived from “Cai,” an ancient Chinese state. The surname Cai also means “firewood.”
A common surname in China, Cao, means “to grasp something.”
It is a common surname in Xiamen (a port city situated on the Southeastern coast of China). Chen probably means to “exhibit,” or something “ancient or old.”
The surname Cheng is indicative of something “complete.” Cheng also refers to “order or regulation.” Some of the other meanings of Cheng include “journey,” “honesty,” and “procedure.”
A common surname in China, Cui, means “towering.”
The surname has its origin from a word which means, “to support.”
An East Asian surname with a Chinese origin, Deng, has a toponymic origin since it is derived from “the Deng Kingdom.”
The surname Ding refers to a “strong and powerful man.”
A popular Chinese surname, Dong refers to a “Mentor or one who supervises.”
The surname Du has its name derived from a word which means to “avert or prevent.”
An East Asian surname with Chinese origin, Duan, means “a part or section of something.”
A popular surname in China, Fan means “an example” or “a bee.”
The surname Fang has its name derived from a word that refers to “something that is four-sided or a square.”
One of the popular Chinese surnames, Feng has its origin from the city of Feng, situated in Wei state that existed during the Zhou Dynasty around the tenth century BC.
A Chinese surname (ancient Han) of imperial origin, the surname Fu was bestowed by “Dayou (one of the descendants of the Emperor Yellow)” to his son “Fu Yi” and his subsequent generations. The surname Fu refers to a “teacher or a guide.”
An East-Asian surname that has a Chinese origin, Gao, means something or someone “high or tall.”
The surname Gong has its origin from a word which means “to give.”
The Chinese surname Gu has its name derived from a word which means “to care for.”
A common Chinese surname, Guo, refers to the “wall surrounding a city.” The surname Guo has a toponymic origin and derives its name from “Guo,” a state that existed during the ancient Xia dynasty.
The surname Han has a toponymic origin and refers to an ancient state of Han, presently situated in the Henan and Shanxi provinces of China.
A common Chinese surname, He, has its origin from the “Ji clan of the Zhou Dynasty” and the “Jiang clan of Yandi.” In modern China, “He” forms the second character of the title “Xihe,” which means “an astrologer.”
The surname Hong refers to a “rainbow.” Hong also means to “expand,” or “something grand.”
A common Chinese surname, Hou, refers to a “Marquis.”
The surname Hu, either refers to “whiskers,” or “wild.” Hu also has an ornamental origin, whereby residents of the “Youhu” state during the Xia dynasty adopted the second character as their surname.”
A popular surname in China, Huang, means “Yellow.”
A surname with a toponymic origin, Jia, has its name derived from “Jia,” an ancient Chinese state, which is presently situated in the Shanxi province of China.
The surname Jiang has its origin from a word which means “wild rice.”
29. Jiang (alternative)
The surname Jiang means “ginger.”
The surname Jin has its origin from a word which means, “Gold.”
The surname Kang refers to a “healthy person.” Kang also means “well-being.”
The surname Ke refers to the “handle of an Axe.”
The surname Kong has its origin from the family name of “Confucius,” a popular Chinese politician and philosopher.
The Chinese surname Lai means “to trust or rely on someone or something.”
While the exact origin is not known, the surname Lei, probably means “thunder.”
36. Li or Lee
One of the most common surnames in China, the surname Li, means “reason or logic.” The surname Li also refers to “the plum tree.”
A common surname in China, Li, has its origin from a word meaning “multitude.”
38. Li (alternative)
The Chinese surname Li has its name derived from a word which means “to establish.”
An East Asian surname with Chinese origin, Liang, probably has a toponymic origin referring to the Liang state that existed between 771 to 476 BC. The surname Liang means “a bridge or a beam.”
The surname Lin probably has its origin from the late Shang Dynasty. The surname Lin means “a forest,” or “tall trees.”
A surname common among the Han dynasty rulers, Liu means “to destroy,” or “to kill.”
The surname Long probably has its origin from “Long,” the personal name of a treasurer who lived during King Shun’s reign. The surname Long means “a dragon.”
One of the common Chinese surnames, Lu, refers to a “cottage or a hut.”
44. Lu (alternative)
A common Chinese surname, Lu, has its name derived from a word which means “a musical note.”
The surname Luo has its origin from a word that refers to “bird-trapping net.” Luo probably has an occupational origin, referring to individuals involved in knitting the bird-trapping nets.
A common family name across China, the surname Ma, means “a horse.”
A surname with a toponymic origin, Mao, has its origin from “Mao,” an ancient Chinese area that existed during the Zhou dynasty, and presently situated in the Henan province. The surname Mao refers to “fur” or “feathers.”
The surname Meng denotes a clan name or represents a rank or seniority of a member within a certain family. The surname Meng means “first” or “one who is eminent.”
The surname Mo means “do not.”
The surname Pan has a toponymic origin, deriving its name from a river that flows into the River Han.
A popular Chinese surname, Peng refers to individuals who were the descendants of Peng Zu, a legendary figure that existed during the Shang dynasty.
The surname has its origin from “Qin,” the first dynasty that came into existence in Imperial China.
The Chinese surname Qiu means “hills.”
The surname means “to appoint.” It also refers to “Ren,” a city bestowed to Yu Yang, who is said to be the 25th son of King Huang Di.
The surname comes from “Ruan,” which is the name of a traditional Chinese musical instrument.
A popular Chinese surname, Shao, has its origin from the Zhou Dynasty. Shao also refers to “pottery.”
A popular Chinese surname, Shen, means “to sink.”
The surname Shi refers to a “stone.” It is also derived from a Chinese word, which means “to recognize.”
59. Shi (alternative)
A common surname in China, Shi, means, “to reproduce,” or “to establish.”
A surname common in China, Song, has its name derived from “Song,” which was a dynasty that ruled over China in ancient times.
The surname Su has its origin from “Su,” an ancient Chinese kingdom that existed during King Fu Xi’s reign.
The surname Sun refers to “a descendant” or “a grandchild.”
The surname Tan has its origin from “Tan,” an ancient Chinese state, presently situated in the Shandong province. Tan, in Chinese, means “to talk.”
A popular Chinese surname, Tang, has a toponymic origin, deriving its name from the Tang dynasty that ruled China between seventh to eighth century AD.
65. Tang (alternative)
A family name with its origin from various individuals of the Shang dynasty. Tang, means “soup” or “boiling water.”
A common surname in China, Tao, probably means “pottery.” It also means “to be pleased.”
This surname means “talk,” or “field.” Tian is derived from “Tan,” an ancient city presently situated in the Shandong province of China.
A surname with an interesting meaning, Wan, means “ten thousand.”
A popular surname across China, Wang, refers to “a monarch or a king.” Wang could also mean “a prince.”
70. Wang (alternative)
A common surname in China, Wang, means “sea.”
The surname Wei refers to soft leather.
72. Wei (alternative)
The surname Wei has its origin from “Wei,” an ancient Chinese city.
The surname Wen means “culture.” It also refers to a script or words.
The surname Wu has a toponymic origin and derives its name from “Wu,” an ancient Chinese state that existed during the Western Zhou dynasty.
75. Wu (alternative)
The surname Wu means “military.”
The surname Xia means “summer.” It could have been derived from the name of the Xia dynasty.
The surname Xiao has its name derived from the kingdom of Xiao in Anhui province. Xiao also means “quiet.”
The surname Xie refers to the “withering of leaves or flowers.” It also means “to thank or apologize to someone.”
It was originally a clan name that likely referred to the Xia, Shen, or the Xiang clans/families.
A popular Chinese surname, Xiong, means “bear.”
A popular surname in China, Xu means “slow.” The surname also means “calm.”
82. Xu (alternative)
The surname means “benefit.” Xu likely has an ornamental origin, adopted by a few “Manchu people” during the Qing Dynasty.
The surname Xue is derived from a word which means “Wormwood,” a therapeutic herb used to alleviate digestion problems.
A common surname in China, Yan, means “strict.” It also means “tight.”
A surname common among people in Mainland China, Yang, is the phonetic translation of a Chinese family name. The surname Yang means ” willow,” or “Aspen.”
One of the popular Chinese surnames, Yao, refers to the one who is “elegant.”
The surname Ye has its origin from “Ye,” a city in the Henan province. The surname Ye means a “leaf.”
The Chinese surname Yu means “rain or rainfall.”
89. Yu (alternative)
A popular Chinese surname, Yu, means “in excess or surplus.” The surname Yu also refers to “something pleasant.”
90. Yu (alternative)
The surname Yu refers to “precious gemstones.”
The surname Yuan refers to “a long dress or a robe.” Yuan could have its origin from the name of a noble family in Chen, an ancient Chinese state presently situated in the eastern Henan province.
The surname Zeng has its origin from Zeng, a state in China. The surname Zeng also refers to “the relationship between great-grandfather and great-grandson.”
A common surname in China, Zhang, refers to the “expansion/stretching of the bowstring.”
It is a surname popular among individuals in Mandarin-speaking regions of Mainland China. Zhao, probably refers to an ancient city that once existed in the region presently known as Shanxi province.
A popular Chinese surname, Zheng, has a toponymic origin referring to the ancient state of Zheng, presently in the Henan province.
A surname which means “bell,” Zhong, has its origin from “Zhongli,” an ancient Chinese state situated in the River Huai.
The surname Zhou has a toponymic origin and derives its name from the Zhou Dynasty. Zhou also refers to “a week” or “circumference.”
The surname Zhu has a toponymic origin, referring to “Zhu (Zhulou),” an ancient Chinese state during the reign of the Zhou Dynasty. Zhu also refers to “crimson.”
The surname may have an occupational origin referring to either a “banker.” The surname Zhuang also has its name derived from a word which could either mean “a farmstead,” or “a place of business.”
A name with a toponymic origin, Zou has its name derived from “Zou,” an ancient Chinese state during the Zhou dynasty.
If you wish to explore Chinese surnames or last names, the list provided here will provide you with significant insight into various surnames. Most Chinese surnames have been lost or simplified during the rule of different dynasties over many centuries. However, it is interesting that many surnames have survived over the years and are being used even today, providing a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region. Go through the list to know the various Chinese surnames and their interesting origin in history.
Infographic: Common Chinese Last Names
Knowing about a country’s last names is a great way to learn about that nation’s history. Here are some more things we think you would like to know about the country’s naming traditions. This infographic lets you know some interesting facts about Chinese surnames and five of the most popular surnames across the country.