How to Choose a Chinese Name

Posted by Fifi Yang on 24/02/2016 12:28 AM 1136

When you first start to learn Chinese, adopting a Chinese name will be necessary. The easiest way to come up with a Chinese Name would be simply a transliteration of your given game in English. But, what if you want to find a local Chinese name that makes sense.

A good name is expected to pave the way to a successful and prosperous life. Here is a some Chinese sayings about how important a good name is in Chinese.

(cì zǐ qiānjīn, bù rú jiāo zǐ yí yì, jiāo zǐ yí yì , bù rú cì zǐ hǎo mínɡ )
Instead of giving your child gold, teach him a skill; instead of teaching him a skill, give him a good name.

bú pà shēnɡ cuò mìnɡ, jiù pà qǐ cuò mínɡ
People would rather getting a tough life than getting a wrong name

General Rules about Chinese Names

Most Chinese names are made up of three characters. All Chinese names start with the family name, or surname, and then following the given name. Given names are usually 1 or 2 character(s). Most family names are 1 character, but there are some exceptions, some are made up of two characters. For example: 司马sī mǎ, 欧阳ōu yánɡ,长孙zhǎnɡ sūn,公孙ɡōnɡ sūn,东方dōnɡfānɡ,上官shànɡɡuān,etc.

When Chinese parents name their baby boy girl, there are 4 factors they would consider: meaning, Special significance, sound, family connection, expectation. There are some cultural factors. However, choose a Chinese name for foreigners would be easier. The most important issue is not to make your name sound too eerie.

Tips for choosing a Chinese Name

1. Transliteration is a good choice, but not fit everyone.

Some people will care about whether the Chinese in name is phonetic. It's great if your given name is single syllable or disyllable, your translation is perfect.

For example:
Anthony: 安东尼
Chris: 克里斯
Daniel: 丹尼尔
Jessie: 杰西

If your given name is very long, it's not suggested to use the transcribed version, since Chinese name only made up 3 Characters. It would be too long for Chinese friends/colleagues to call you.

For example:

Patrice: 帕特里斯
Sebastian: 赛巴斯蒂安
Wilfried: 威尔弗里德

Also, there may be some jokes about some literally transcribed Chinese name, such 夏洛特,xià luò tè, sounds like 杀了他shā le tā, meaning kill him/her

2. Pay Attention to Gender

Some names are specially for girls, some are for boys. For example, for a Spanish name. Juan in Chinese, it's 娟, a name for girl. So that's not appropriate.

Chinese Names for Boys

力 lì, "power."
雄 xióng, "male."
宏 hóng, "grand."
子 zǐ, "son."
成 chéng, "succeed."

Chinese Names for Girls

梦 mèng, "dream."
夏 xià, "summer."
雪 xuě, "snow."
丽 lì, "beautiful."
安 ān, "safe."

3. Choose a simple Name

Choose a name that most Chinese people will recognize, which can avoid the embarrassment of if your Chinese friends could not read it properly. Here are some common Chinese family names for the reference. It's not recommended to find a character that only appear in ancient history. It's not easily readable and understandable.

4. Watch the Chinese meaning

Chinese name usually has specific meaning, if you do not choose it well, this will bring some jokes.

An interesting tool for you to choose a Chinese Name.

Simply put your name spelling and select the characteristics, the program will suggest the surname and given names accordingly. However, the selection is not unique. If you do not like the name displayed, you can use this tool to submit again. You will get another option. Try it, until you get the one you like.

After you provide all the information required, you will get the name suggestion, together with the Chinese pinyin, English explanation as well as the standard Chinese pronunciation(However, the audio file is in aif format, you can check the data in a Chinese dictionary).

Given name:
Family Name:
Desired Essence of the Name:
Your Gender:
Your Birthdate:

We hope that post was useful! What's your Chinese Name and why you pick it? We'd love to hear about it in the comments section below!

About The Author

Fifi Yang

Fifi has spent a great number of years learning French. With the understanding of the challenges of learning a language. She puts this experience to good use while preparing and delivering classes to her students. Fifi enjoys drawing, reading, and sports. Learn Chinese online with Fifi Yang >>