Daily Life

Chinese Surname Culture

The number of Chinese surnames is numerous and has a long history. It is recorded there are 5,662 surnames, including 3,484 single family names, 2,032 compound surnames,  and 146 three-word surnames (exclusive of surnames of Han nationality translated by Mongolian and Manchu in the Yuan and Qing Dynasty). Today, we will talk about Chinese surname culture like it beginnings, rare and common Chinese family names and meanings.

1. Origins of Chinese Surname Culture

According to the statics published by authority, the surname can be traced back to the Matriarchal society about at least 5,500 years ago. At that times, new-born baby usually followed their mother’s name, instead of following father’s name. This is very easy to understand. We can find out from the Chinese character of surename “姓”. As we can see, 姓 is combined by 女 and 生, and 女 refers to female.

2. Common Surnames in China

As we said before, there are about 5,662 surnames in Chinese culture, but only about 1,000 are really used in the daily life. The surnames commonly used are much more fewer.

1). Top 10 Chinese Surnames:

including 张(zhānɡ), 王(wánɡ), 李(lǐ), 赵(zhào), 陈(chén), 杨(yánɡ), 吴(wú), 刘(liú), 黄(huánɡ), 周(zhōu). About 40% of Chinese people are using these surnames in the world.

2). No.2 Top 10 Chinese Surnames:

including 徐(xú), 朱(zhū), 林(lín), 孙(sūn), 马(mǎ), 高(ɡāo), 胡(hú), 郑(zhènɡ), 郭(ɡuō), 萧(xiāo ). About 10% of Chinese people are using these surnames in the world.

3). No.3 Top 10 Chinese Surnames:

including 谢(xiè), 何(hé), 许(xǔ), 宋(sònɡ), 沈(shěn), 罗(luó), 韩(hán), 邓(dènɡ), 梁(liánɡ), 叶(yè). About 10% of Chinese people are using these surnames in the world.

4). No.4 Top 10 Chinese Surnames:

including 方(fānɡ), 崔(cuī), 程(chénɡ), 潘(pān), 曹(cáo), 冯(fénɡ), 汪(wānɡ), 蔡(cài), 袁(yuán), 卢(lú), 唐(tánɡ), 钱(qián), 杜(dù), 彭(pénɡ), 陆(lù ). About 10% of Chinese people are using these surnames in the world.

Except for these single-character family names, some compound surnames are commonly seen in our daily life such as 欧阳(ōu yánɡ), 司马(sī mǎ), 西门(xī mén), 上官(shànɡ ɡuān), 皇甫(huánɡ fǔ), etc. If you want to find an appropriate Chinese name for yourself, I suggest you choosing a single-character surname listed above because it is simpler to memorize and pronounce.

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