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One Hundred Names

Part of the canon of Classical Chinese literature is the Hundred Family Names Bǎi jiā xìng. The Han Chinese have a small number of family names, and one colloquial way to refer to the Chinese people is as the Lǎo bǎi xìng Venerable hundred surnames or just Bǎi xìng Hundred names. The term refers to the ‘ordinary working people’ not the government or rulers. There are actually 504 names in this list of names which dates back to the Song dynasty.

Young aspiring scholars would learn these names by heart, it is one way to pick up a few hundred characters. Most of the characters have meanings other than just the name, so learning the names is more useful than would otherwise seem; for example Qián as well as being a family name also means money. The names are arranged in lines of usually eight names in rhyming couplets.

The names are not in order of frequency of the family names, although it is true that the more common ones are near the top. Some of the most common names in China are Wang , Chen , Li , Zhang and Liu . Towards the end of the list are some of the rarer two character family names. Although there are now about 3,000 family names only about 250 are common.

Here is the full list of names, they are written in both the modern, simplified and traditional forms if they are different. If they are the same the first column character(s) works for both forms. You will find the second, traditional form in any documents pre-1960 and these are still in use in Taiwan, Hong Kong and by most overseas Chinese. The Chinese character(s) and Pinyin are followed by the meaning in English and after that different pronunciations of the character in other Chinese languages such as Cantonese, Hakka, Vietnamese, Malaysian. Because the spoken sound can vary so much it is important to track down the actual written character for the name so that family ancestry can be traced.

Zhào go away rapidlyChew, Chieu, Chu, Chiu.
Imperial family name of the Song dynasty. The legendary emperor 颛顼 Zhuān xū gave the county of Zhaocheng, Shaanxi as a gift and many people born there took the county as their family name. The eighth most common family Chinese name.
Qián cashCh'ien.
All descendents are named after an official working in the Imperial mint in early dynastic times.
Sūn descendents, grandson.
Sun Wu in the Warring States Period wrote the famous ‘Art of War’. Sun Yatsen is the most famous recent member of the family. Twelfth most common family name (2019).
plumLee, Ly (Vietnam).
Imperial family name of the Tang dynasty. It is the second most common surname just behind Wang with 93 million people (2019). A story says that the name ‘plum’ arose because the first Li survived persecution by eating plums around 3,000 years ago. The Daoist philosopher Laozi is considered by many as the family's founder. Li Lisan was an early leader of the Communist party in China.
Zhōu encircleJoe, Chow.
Zhou Dunyi is regarded as the inventor of the taiji figure. Zhou Enlai is the most famous recent family member. The Zhou dynasty lasted 790 years - the longest of all. The tenth most common name in China (2019).
Jiangsu Woo, Ng, Ang, Goh
Named after the short name for the province of Jiangsu - originally the state of Wu. Ninth most popular family name. Wu Cheng'en is the famous author of the ‘Journey to the West’.
Zhèng solemnCheng, Chung
The name of a Zhou dynasty state in present day southern Henan.
Wáng ruler, kingWong, Heng, Ong
The most common surname in mainland China in 2019 with 93 million people.

Féng running horseFoong, Fung, Pang
Chén displayChin, Chan, Tan.
A story has the name bestowed by King Wu of Zhou as descendents of Emperor Shun. There was a Chen dynasty in the Period of Disunity. Fifth most common family name. It is also name of a small Zhou dynasty state in present day south-eastern Henan.
Wèi protect
The name of a small Zhou dynasty state in present day northern Henan.
The name of a Zhou dynasty state in present day Shanxi.
Yáng poplar treeYoung, Ye, Yong, Yeung, Joeng
Imperial family name of the Sui dynasty. Sixth most common family name. Yang Guifei of the Tang dynasty is one of the best known family historical figures.

Zhū scarletChu, Tu, Gee.
Imperial family name of the Ming dynasty. 14th most common family name. Named after the small, ancient state of Zhu now within Shandong.
The name of a Zhou dynasty state in western China that went to form the Qin dynasty.
Yóu especially
permitHui, Huie, Hsu
carryHor, Ko, Ho.
17th most common family name.
musical note
Shī give awaySze
Zhāng open up (stretching a bow)Cheung, Chong, Teoh, Teo, Chiang, Cheong, Jong, Tiong.
The third most common family name, rather like the English surname ‘Archer’ in meaning. the film director Zhang Yimou is one of the recent famous family members.

Kǒng hole
Kung is the family name of Confucius, the Kung family claim the longest known family tree in the world.
Cáo severalTow, Tso
The name of a Zhou dynasty state in present day Shandong.
Yán fluid, strictYim
Jīn gold
Wèi Wei, Gooi
The name of a Zhou dynasty state in present day Shanxi, Shaanxi and northern Shandong.
Táo pleased, pottery

Xiè thankDea, Der, Deer, Che, She, Tse, Tze
Bǎi cedar
Shuǐ water
Dòu holeTou
Zhāng chapter

Yún cloud

Fàn model
Láng youth

The name of a Zhou dynasty state in present day Shandong centered on Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius.
Wéi leather
Chāng flatter
horseMah, Mar
It is the 13th most common family name but the most common among the Hui minority people.
Miáo sprout
Fèng phoenix
Huā blossom
Fāng square, regionFong

Rèn appoint
Yuán robe
Liǔ willow
Shǐ history
Táng Tang dynasty
Ming dynasty, porcelain, plate
Photo by Anonymous, Chinese plate, Ming dynasty, Yongle period 1403-1424, porcelain with under-glaze blue, 23 inches [58 cms] diameter, Honolulu Academy of Arts. Available under a Creative Commons license .

Fèi expenses
Lián un-corrupt, reasonable
Cén hillockSam, Sum, Shum, Tsen, Gim
Xuē grassHsueh
The name of a Zhou dynasty city-state in present day eastern Shandong.
Léi thunderLouis, Lui

Tāng soupTong, Hong

Yīn flourishing
Luó gather, arrange Law, Loh, Lo, Lao.
20th most common family name (2019).

Ān peace, calm
Cháng often

happy, musicYue
with, at/in
Shí time
Biàn hurried
Kāng ease, healthHong

battalionNg, Eng
I, meYu, Yee
Yuán first, origin, currencyNgeun
to prospect
look about
Mèng first
Píng level
Huáng yellowWong, Hwang, Ng, Wee, Oei, Ooi, Bong, Huynh, Hwang
Seventh most common family name. An ancient name originating from one of the three Huang Kingdoms. The Yellow Emperor - Huangdi is considered the ancestor of all Chinese people.

Xiāo mournfulSiew, Siu, Seow, Hsiao
Yǐn rule
Zhàn deep water
Wāng lake

Máo fur, hair
Mao Zedong's family name

uncooked rice
Bèi cowrie shell
Míng clear, bright
Zāng good

ruse, plan
conceal, submit
Chéng complete
Dài wear
Tán discuss
Sòng Name of the Song dynasty
Máo thatch
Páng huge

Xióng bear (animal)
Shū relax
wronged, bent
Xiàng nape
Zhù invoke
Dǒng supervise
Liáng roof beam, bridgeLeong, Leung

Lán basket
Mǐn empathize
hemp, numb

Lóu star
Jiāng riverChiang, Gong
Tóng boy, child
Yán color
Guō city wallKwok, Gwok.
16th most common family name. It is derived from Prince Guo Shu, son of a Zhou dynasty king.

Méi plumMoy, Mui, Bui
Shèng flourish
Lín forest, woodsLam, Lim, Lum.
18th most common family name. There is a story that the founder of the family fled to a forest to escape the evil Emperor Shang Emperor Zhou and gave birth there. King Wu of Zhou then gave the son the name 'forest'.
Diāo wicked
Zhōng bell
slow, gradualShu, Shaw, Seah, Hsu, Shi, Choi.
Named after the ancient state of Xu (northern Jiangsu). Eleventh most common family name (2019).
Qiū moundKhu, Kau, Yau, Hui, Hew, Hiu
Luò camel
Sacred Way
The 2,018 feet [615 meters] long Stone Elephant Road is the first section of the Spirit Way (Shendao) of the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum. It is lined with several kinds of stone animals - lions, xiezhi, camels, elephants, qilin (Chinese unicorns), and horses. 27th Jan 2011. Image by User:Vmenkov available under a Creative Commons license .

Gāotall, highKao, Gou, Go.
19th most common family name.
Xià summer
Cài Chai, Chua, Chye, Choy, Tsai
The name of a Zhou dynasty state in present day south-eastern Henan.
Tián field
Fán cage
beard, recklessWu, Hu, Oh, Foo.
15th most common family name (2019)
Líng advance, ice

myriad, ten thousandWan, Mon, Maan, Won
Guǎn control

do not, is not

Qiú fur coat
Gān dry
Yìng answer
Zōng familyDung, Tsung

Dīng 4th heavenly stem
Bēn energeticBi
Dèng Teng, Tang, Thien, Thean, Thian
Háng Hangzhou
Hóng floodHung

Bāo wrap, coverGao
Zhū many
Zuǒ left (as opposed to right)
Shí stone, rock
Cuī high mountain, precipice
Niǔ button

Chéng extent
Huá cunning
Róng gloriousWing, Wheng
Wēng old man

Yáng sheep, goat

Huì favor
Zhēn form

Jiā home, family
Fēng grant, confer

Ruì small
Chǔ savings
fetch water
Bǐng happy
Sōng loose

Jǐng pit
Duàn portion
rich, good fortune
crow, black
Jiāo scorched
Gōng longbow

Kuí Kui, Wei
Shān mountain
Chē vehicle
Hóu marquis
Péng disheveled

Quán entire
Bān class
Yǎng admire, respect
Qiū autumn, fall
Gōng palace

Nìng peaceful
Qiú matchQiu, Chou
Bào cruel
Gān sweet, pleasant
Tǒu Dou, Tou
Róng weapon

Liú killLau, Lou, Low, Lew.
Imperial family name of the Han dynasty. A story is that Liu Lei in distant times failed in his duty to look after dragons and fled to Lu county to escape arrest. Fourth most common name (2019).
Jǐng bright, sceneryYing
Zhān excellentChaim
Shù bind
Lóng dragonLung, Loong

leaf, pageYeh, Yap, Yep, Yip
Xìng fortunate
Sháo harmonious
blackLi, Lai, Le

slight, thin

Yìn print
宿 former
Bái gratuitous
怀 Huái cherish

Cóng unhurried
È Hubei

Suǒ isolated
Xián all
Lài disclaim, depend on
Zhuó surpassing, distinguished
Méng hoodwink

Chí pond
Qiáo tall
Yīn cloudy, negative
Néng energy
Cāng dark blue
Shuāng pair

Wén hear
Zhái Zhe, Di
Tán chatTam, Ham, Hom, Hum, Thom, Tom
Gòng gift
Láo toil

Shēn 9th earthly branch, extend
wall, stifle
Zǎi govern, slaughter

Yōng harmonious

jade ring
Sāng mulberry
Guì laurel, cassia

Niú cow, ox
寿 Shòu long life, age
Tōng know well, expert

Biān side, border
The name of a Zhou dynasty frontier state in present day Hebei and Liaoning.
river bank, shore
Shàng esteemSheung
Nóng peasant, diligent

Wēn lukewarmWon
Bié leave, classify
Zhuāng village, farmstead
Yàn quiet, late
Chái firewood

Yán village gate
Chōng satisfy, substitute

Lián join
eat, vegetables
Huàn eunuch
Róng contain

Xiàng towards
Shèn careful
Liào Lew

Zhōng finish

Héng weigh, measure
walk, march
metropolis, all
Gěng bright
滿滿Mǎn fill, pack
Hóng liberal, great

Kuāng aid, reformHong
Guó nation, countryGok, Gauk, Gwock.
Wén literary
Kòu plunder, bandit
广 Guǎng wide, vast
祿 good fortune
Dōng east

Ōu brawl
Shū spear
fertile, irrigate
sharp, benefit
Yuè surpass, exceed
Kuí rain god
Lóng intense, swell

Shī teacher, master
Gǒng secure, solid
Niè whisper
Gōu attract, collude, affair
Áo ramble, rove
Róng melt

Lěng cold
wealth, backbite
Xīn hot, suffering
Kàn glance, peep
that, thenNuo
Jiǎn simple, letter
Ráo abundant, bonus
Kōng empty, sky

Zēng great-grandfatherTseng, Dont, Tsang, Cheng, Chng, Jeng.
nobody, no
Shā sandSa
Miē squint
bring up
mustache, beard
Fēng luxuriant, buxom

Cháo nest
Guān shut, passKuan, Kwan, Quan.
Kuǎi a rush
Xiāng appearance, mutual
Hòu behind, back
Jīng thorns, brambles
Hóng red

Yóu roam, swim
Quán power, authority
lid, canopy

Gōng public, common, male

Mò qí
司馬Sī mǎ army general or minister of warSzema, Seema.
Imperial family name of the Jin dynasty [265-316]
Shàng guān superior
歐陽Ōu yáng Europe, brightAuyong, Owyang
Xià hóu
诸葛 諸葛Zhū gě

聞人Wén rén Famous person
東方Dōng fāng the East
赫連Hè lián
Huáng fǔ
尉迟 尉遲Yù chí(in other contexts the first character is pronounced 'wèi')
Gōng yáng ram

Tán tái
Gōng yě
宗政 Zōng zhèng
濮陽Pú yáng
Chún yú
單于Chán yú (in other contexts the first character is pronounced 'shàn')

Tài shū
Shēn tú
公孫Gōng sūn
仲孫Zhòng sūn
轩辕 軒轅Xuān yuán
Líng hú

鍾离Zhōng lí
Yǔ wén
長孫Zhǎng sūn
Mù róng
尟于Xiān yú
闾丘 閭丘Lǘ qiū

司徒 Sī túMinister for Land and People Sutu, Seto
Sī kōngMinister for Public Works
Qí guān(in other contexts the first character is pronounced 'jī')
司寇 司㓂Sī kòu
Zhǎng mother
guzheng, music
Guzheng player

子車Zǐ chē
顓孫Zhuān sūn
Duān mù
巫馬Wū mǎ
西 Gōng xī

漆雕 漆彫Qī diāo
樂正Yuè zhèng
壤驷 壤駟Rǎng sì
Gōng liáng
拓跋 Tuò bá
夾穀Jā gǔ

Zǎi fù
穀梁Gǔ liáng
Jìn promote, advance
The name of a Zhou dynasty state in present day Shanxi and also the name of the Jin dynasty in northern China.
Chǔ distinct, pain
The name of a large state in Hubei/Henan back in the Zhou dynasty.
law, method

smear, daub
Qīn respect, venerate
段乹Duàn gān
百裏Bǎi lǐ

東郭Dōng guō
南門Nán mén
呼延 Hū yán
Guī give back
Hǎi sea, ocean
Yáng shé
Wēi shēng

Yuè high mountain
Shuài handsome, graceful
Kòng overbearing, (may be pronounced kàng)
Yǒu have, exist
Qín musical instrument

梁丘 Liáng qiū
Zuǒ qiū
東門Dōng mén
西 西門Xī mén

Shāng Shang dynasty; merchant
Móu barley, obtain
Nài(in other contexts the character is pronounced 'èr')

uncle (may be pronounced
Shǎng bestow
南宮Nán gōng

ink stick
Qiáo ridicule

Nián year
Ài love, like
Yáng yang as opposed to yin
Tóng Tung

Dì wǔ fifth
Yán speech
Fujian, good fortune

百傢姓終Bǎi jiā xìng Zhōng 100 Chinese names complete

See also