Chinese Baby Names
Chinese baby names are often confusing to westerners. To begin with, in China, the surname (or family name) comes first, followed by the given, or personal name. So, if John Smith happened to be Chinese, he would refer to himself as Smith John. Furthermore, in China, unlike in the west, there are relatively few surnames, but a huge diversity of given names.
Chinese baby names come from the many thousands of Chinese characters, or graphic word symbols, in existence, so the variety of names is enormous. Usually, a Chinese given name will consist of two characters, denoting two things or concepts, such as 'golden sea' for a baby boy, or 'little iris' for a baby girl. For boys, the characters usually reflect traditional male qualities like strength and endurance, whereas for baby girls, the Chinese name will often be linked to beauty, flowers, refinement, or nature.
In Chinese culture the influence of family is extremely strong. This extends to Chinese baby names as well. Often, one of the two characters of the given name is shared by all members of a generation within a family. This generational system makes more sense when you realize that it is considered offensive, in China, to name a baby after an older relative. (It is also considered poor taste to name a baby after a well-known public figure or celebrity).
For our list of Chinese baby names, ten for boys and ten for girls, we have chosen some names that we feel will give you a sense of the variety and beauty of Chinese names. Since we cannot reproduce Chinese characters on the site, the names have been 'anglicized' in the accepted manner. The translation into modern English should not be taken as the only possible definition, since many Chinese characters have several meanings, and there may be linguistic nuances beyond the scope of this short list. Still, we hope the names and definitions we provide will give you a glimpse of the beautiful Chinese language and the role it serves in the creation of Chinese baby names.
When Chinese babies are born, the parents have a month to register them with the state. In the interim, parents often give the baby a nickname, such as 'bright star,' or 'tiny jewel.' The nickname, or as it is sometimes called, the 'milk name,' may remain with the baby long after childhood!
If you are looking for a two-character Chinese name, be careful not to make the mistake of thinking any character combination will do. While it is true that there are thousands of characters to choose from, not all combinations are appropriate, and some may be very inappropriate! An excellent article by Xiaoning Wang about choosing a Chinese baby name, will give you more guidance on this issue. You can also find useful information at the Wikipedia entry on Chinese given names.
Whether you are looking for a Chinese baby name for a child born in China, or you are honoring your's or your partner's Chinese heritage, or whether you are simply browsing for enjoyment, we hope these names will help you in your search. Please let us know if you have a favorite Chinese baby name that you think we should include!