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Symbolism and Meaning of Chinese Baby Names

Chinese baby names

Chinese baby names are rich in meaning and symbology, representing the parents' hopes and wishes for a successful and happy life for the child. Parents take into account considerations such as how well the name sounds, the imagery it brings about, how auspicious it is for the child, it's numerology, a well-balanced yin-yang, and even feng shui factors. Not surprisingly, there are many great baby names, and this is a selection of the most beautiful Chinese names.

Feminine Chinese Names

Chinese names for girls tend to wish upon the child beauty and virtue. The meaning of each name is listed, and in parentheses, it also describes what images, sounds, or ideas the name is meant to invoke.

  • Ai Mí - eye meeh - Overflowing with love and affection (image of peaceful cloudy sky)
  • Bó Bì - boh beeh - Plenty of green jade (sounds like "protection", invokes image of vibrant green bamboo)
  • Cǎi Hóng - sai hong - Rainbow (sounds like "infinite gifts")
  • Chéng Lì - cheng leeh - Sincere and beautiful (image of river with clear and peaceful waters)
  • Dēng Huī - deng hwey - Bright light, flourishing light (sounds like "expecting the best")
  • Fāng Fēn - fang fehn - Fragrant (sounds like "free spirit", image of a foggy dawn)
  • Huān Yǒng - hwan yoh-ong - Always joyful (image of completeness - ongoing circle)
  • Jū Dì - ju dee - Star that shines like a pearl (image of rainbow at a distance)
  • Liǎn Huà - lee-an hua - Tranquil and self possessed (rhymes with lotus)
  • Lì Lì - leeh leeh - Beautiful jasmine (homophones include power, reason, and stability)
  • Měi Líng - meh-ee leeng - Beautiful and clever (image of radiant sunshine)
  • Míng Huì - meeng hwey - Bright and intelligent (image of comet shining in a dark night)
  • Nìng Jǐng - neeng jee-eeng - Talented and bright (sounds like "tranquility," image of peaceful scenery)
  • Pèi Shàn - pei shan - Copious blessings / abundant good (image of torrent of rain and lightning / sounds like "to be with you")
  • Qǐ Qiān - chee-eeh chian - Beautiful and modest (sounds like "devoutly praying," image of bright star in the morning)
  • Ruì Qín - rwey chin - Thoughtful and perspicacious (image of being completely covered in flowers)
  • Xī Fèng - shee fong - Western phoenix (sounds like "abundantly joyful")
  • Wǎn Yú - wah-an yu - Graceful beauty (image of white jade, luxuriant creativity, complete health)
  • Wěn Míng - when meehng - Poised and bright (sounds like "famous and well known," image of constant drizzle of rain)
  • Zhēn Zhēn - jeng jeng - Precious treasure - (image of evergreen luxuriant vegetation)

The following chart includes the names written in Chinese characters.

Chinese Names for Girls

Masculine Chinese Names

Chinese names for boys often represent the kind of future the parents wish for their sons.

  • An Róng - ahn rong - Contented glory (sounds like "harmonious peace")
  • Bǐng Wén - bee-eeng when - Bright and cultivated (image of bright colorful clouds)
  • Chàng Mǐn -chang me-een - Joyful, strong, vigorous (sounds like "heavenly singing")
  • Dǔ Yì- dooh yi - Sincere and righteous (sounds like "independent and whole")
  • Fēng Liáng - fong lee-ang - Abundant in good (sounds like "very good looking" and "to grant forgiveness")
  • Huǎn Jùn - hwa-an jun - Good looking and talented (image of a complete circle)
  • Jiàn Mǐn - jee-ahn mee-een - Healthy and strong (sounds like "heaven fulfilled a promise")
  • Jù Yì - ju eeh - Great virtue (image of tangerine tree, sounds like "easy living")
  • Lóng Wēi - long way - Prosperous and mighty (image of dragon rising through clouds)
  • Mín Zhé - meen je - Gentle, affable, and wise (sounds like "strong person")
  • Qǐng Lài - chee-eeng lai - Answered prayer (sounds like "good graces")
  • Shǎn Yuàn - sha-an yuan - Attained wish (sounds like "mountain spring")
  • Tài Sǔn - Tai Soo-un - Bamboo shoot of great growth (image of walking on fragrant grass, sounds like "trampling down disease")
  • Téng Fēi - tong fei - Soaring high (image of a flying dragon)
  • Wén Chéng - when jeng - Educated and accomplished (image of colorful clouds above clear and still water)
  • Yǒng Zhèng - yoh-ong jeng - Forever righteous (sounds like "always making money")
  • Xiě Lì - shee-eh lee - Clever writer (sounds like "thank you for this gift" and "harmonious energy")
  • Yán Hào - jan haoh - Bright words, eloquent speaker (image of a tall mountain with a clear summer sky)
  • Zhì Xiǎng - chi shia-ang - Joy in wisdom (sounds like "extremely popular")
  • Zì Xìn - zi shin - Belief in oneself (sounds like "beautiful heart and mind")

For the Chinese characters of each name, please consult the following chart.

Chinese Names for Boys

Chinese Name Basics

Chinese names are formed by one last name, one middle name, and one first name in that order. For example in the name Zhōu Jié Lún, the surname is Zhōu, the middle name is Jié, the first name is n. More often than not, the whole name is used to address the person or the last name plus an honorific, for example Zhōu xiān shēng - Mister Zhōu. People close to the person, such as family members and friends, may use the middle and first name Jié Lún. His parents and maybe his significant other may on occasion call him by his first name plus a final particle, i.e: Lún-ah, this is a sign of great closeness.

Thousands of Characters, Endless Combinations

Chinese characters

Without taking into account the family's surname, Chinese names are composed of two characters (syllables that represent ideas, actions, objects, etc). Any combination is possible as long as it has a nice sound flow (easy to pronounce), the two characters combined have a good meaning, and the characters are not too obscure or ancient. For multicultural families, it is also a nice idea to consider combining characters that sound like western names such as Lì lì which sounds like Lily, or Xie Li which sounds like Jerry.

Choosing the Right Combination of Characters

When choosing characters to form your baby's name, you may want to consider:

  • The individual meaning of each character
  • The compound meaning of uniting both characters
  • Whether the compound word has homophones

A good Mandarin Chinese/English dictionary with pinyin input can help enormously.

Chinese Name Faux Pas

The most taboo thing to do is to name a child after an ancestor or an elder, living or dead. Since the name will be used without honorifics when addressing the child, it would be like disrespecting the elder whom you would address with honorifics. You also want to avoid using characters the mean disease, death, difficulty, or any other thing you don't wish upon the child, unless you are combining it with a negation character.

Genealogy

Traditional Chinese families create generational acrostic poems to be followed by several generations in one family. Each generation gets an appointed a character belonging to the poem. This character then becomes the middle name of an entire generation in that family. So, for instance, you might encounter families in which all siblings and cousins all share the same middle name. A good example would be these names for three siblings:

  • Shù Zhēn (tree of luxuriant growth)
  • Shù Míng (tree in a lucky place)
  • Shù Lán (tree filled with orchids)

If you don't have a generational acrostic poem for your family but you want to implement this tradition, you can still choose a middle name for all your children and then elect their first name individually.

Astrology

Chinese astrology

Chinese astrology is a rich and complex art. Master astrologists help determine all kind of important aspects of daily life, including auspicious dates to open a business, get married, break ground, get pregnant, decorate a home, determine marriage compatibility, and name a child (among many other elements of daily life). In naming a child using astrology, you would consider factors such as:

Considering these and other factors, the astrologer then helps choose a name that both compensates what the child might be lacking and equilibrates whatever he/she may have in excess. If you would like to name your child taking into account Chinese astrology, it is highly recommended you consult with an expert.

A Chinese Name Is Above All, Meaningful

Choosing a Chinese name for your baby may imply more than just choosing a name with a nice ring to it. It could also mean a visit to a Chinese astrologist and perhaps taking into account your family's tradition. However in the end, it is the meaning that matters. Choose a name that resonates with your heart and brings a smile to your face.

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Symbolism and Meaning of Chinese Baby Names