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Chinese Name Generator

Looking for a Chinese name? Do you have a script where you just can't get your protagonist's name to sound realistic? Then help yourself out by using our Chinese name generator!

About Chinese Names

Names for Chinese characters can present many challenges. Chinese names are always presented surname first, followed by their given name (so someone with the family surname Wei and the given name Zyang would be called Wei Zyang), and given names are often chosen because of particular associations, or if the relevant Chinese written character has an attractive shape.

The Chinese word for surname is xing (姓) and the word for given name is ming (名). Names are typically short. Surnames are almost always monosyllabic, and given names are either one or sometimes two syllables.

China is a patrilineal society, where the family name is passed down from father to child; male children will pass their name down to their offspring, but female children will always take their husband's family name. However, there is also considerable evidence that thousands of years ago, China may have been a more matrilineal society, especially since significant numbers of early Chinese clan names feature the ideograph character meaning 'woman'. It is theorised that this may be representative of an era 5–6,000 years ago when Chinese people would have been certain of who their mother was but less certain of their father's name.

Male names are often strongly associated with power and strength, while female names are usually connected to nature or beauty. Naming a child after a famous person or an older relative is frowned upon, however, as it would mean that younger members of families would end up accidentally breaking Chinese etiquette by using names only associated with their elders.

In historic times, babies were traditionally named 100 days after their birth. Prior to their official naming, parents would give their babies a "milk name", often of two characters, frequently beginning with the Chinese character for little or child, xiao (小). Sometimes this name would be an unpleasant or insulting name, in order to ward off demons. Nicknames are as common in China as they are in the rest of the world, and sometimes the milk name would continue in the family after the formal naming as the child's nickname.

The variety of surnames in mainland China is surprisingly low – while there are 4,700 names in use in China today, the 100 most common surnames account for eighty-five per cent of the total population of 1.379 billion. For first names, however, the variety is massive – the Chinese have no equivalently common first names like John or Sarah, as the focus in naming a child is often on giving the child as unique a name as possible.

We've done our best to stick to the Chinese naming conventions in our generator in order to make it historically and culturally realistic, and this means that it's ideal for writers, creators, and gamers who want to generate Chinese characters accurately.