Most Popular Chinese Names (Trends in 2022 and Across the Decades)

most popular Chinese names

Naming in Chinese is a huge deal. The name is not only a symbol of cultural and family heritage but also a denotation of parents’ ideals, beliefs, and great expectations. In this guide, we look into the most popular Chinese names, as well as historical trends in baby names, including lists of top names for boys and girls in China over the last 70+ years.

Top Chinese Names

So what are the most popular Chinese names right now?

The Ministry of Public Security of China surveys registered names of the entire Chinese population every year. According to its most recent report released in January 2022, 张伟 (Zhāng Wěi) remains the most common Chinese family name and given name combination, with 294,282 people carrying it as their full name, followed closely by 王伟 (Wáng Wěi), 李娜 (Lǐ Nà), 王芳 (Wáng Fāng), and 李伟 (Lǐ Wěi). However, such names were mostly given to people born in the 1970s and 1980s, and are no longer trending. The latest data shows that the top 10 most popular Chinese names right now are:

Rank Boy NamesGirl Names
1沐宸 (Mùchén): 22,958若汐 (Ruòxī): 18,293
2浩宇 (Hàoyǔ): 15,722一诺 (Yīnuò): 16,884
3沐辰 (Mùchén): 15,660艺涵 (Yìhán): 15,388
4茗泽 (Míngzé): 13,175依诺 (Yīnuò): 15,208
5奕辰 (Yìchén): 12,583梓涵 (Zǐhán): 14,221
6宇泽 (Yǔzé): 12,191苡沫 (Yǐmò): 13,352
7浩然 (Hàorán): 11,808雨桐 (Yǔtóng): 11,916
8奕泽 (Yìzé): 10,899欣怡 (Xīnyí): 11,742
9宇轩 (Yǔxuān): 10,825语桐 (Yǔtóng): 10,795
10沐阳 (Mùyáng): 10,201语汐 (Yǔxī): 10,573

(The number after the names stands for the number of babies given that name in 2021.)

The report, compiled by the Ministry this year, analyzed the names chosen for 4.681 million boys and 4.192 million girls born between January 1 and December 31, 2021, in China. It reveals that the top names for Chinese newborns are 沐宸 (chén) for boys and 若汐 (Ruòxī) for girls.

Compared with the previous year, the top ten baby girl names remained relatively constant, with the exception of 若汐 (Ruòxī) soaring to number one and a few minor swaps. But there was some exciting movement on the boys’ side, with seven new names cracking the top ten.

Do you have any Chinese friends whose babies sport one of these names in the most popular names ranking?

Now, before we go any further, there are two things you need to know about Chinese names.

1. A Chinese person’s name consists of a 姓 (xìng) – family name, and a 名 (míng) – given name, and does not have any space in between them when written in characters.

The family name, which is usually one character (syllable) inherited from one’s father, always comes before the given name. 

Chinese family name or given name

The Chinese given name normally has one or two characters. Single-character given names were popular from the 1970s to early 2000s, but double-character given names are far more common throughout history and in recent years.

In this article, we focus on popular Chinese given names (also known as the “first name” in Western culture), rather than family names. If you are interested in Chinese family names, read 101 Most Common Surnames in China and Their Meanings. If you want to make a Chinese name for yourself, read our guide to Choosing Your Chinese Name.

2. When naming their children, the sound, meaning, and visual appeal of the characters are the major considerations to Chinese parents. The number of strokes used to write the characters is also a factor.

Usually, one Chinese syllable can correspond to several characters, each with a different meaning. For instance, the syllable “yī” can be written as 一 (one), 衣 (clothes), 依 (lean on), and so on. (think of recording the sound /sel/ as “sale”, “sell”, and “cell”, if it helps).

While many Chinese names sound the same and look the same when Romanized in Pinyin (the official Romanization scheme used in China), they are expressed in different characters and are treated as different names.

For example, the two popular Chinese names for baby boys of 2021 – 沐宸 and 沐辰 are both pronounced “Mùchén” but have different meanings.

You see my point, right?

With that in mind, let’s now take a more in-depth look at the top Chinese names, find out what they mean in the Chinese language, and why they’ve become so popular among millennial parents in China.

Let’s get started!

Most Popular Chinese Names for Boys in 2021

popular Chinese boy names

沐宸 (Mùchén) is officially the king of Chinese boys’ names in 2021, followed by 浩宇 (Hàoyǔ) – the top name of 2019, and its similar version 沐辰 (Mùchén). 奕辰 (Yìchén) – the most popular name of 2020, dropped four places.

Most notably, the characters 沐 (mù) – meaning “bathe”, 宇 (yǔ) – meaning “universe”, and 泽 (zé) – meaning “benevolence”, dominated the top 10 list of boy names (each appeared three times). Names containing 辰 (chén) – “sun, moons, stars” and 浩 (hào) – “vast” are also popular. If you read the list aloud, you’ll notice that all the names in the top 10 comprise at least one of these syllables.  

Heres a rundown of the top 10 most popular names for boys in China in 2021, along with their meanings.

1. 沐宸 (Mùchén)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 1
No. of Boys 2021: 22,958
Meaning: bathe in celestial abode
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 沐辰, 慕宸, 慕辰

2. 浩宇 (Hàoyǔ)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 2
No. of Boys 2021: 15,722
Meaning: vast universe
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 皓宇, 昊宇

3. 沐辰 (Mùchén)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 3
No. of Boys 2021: 15,660
Meaning: bathe in sun, moon, stars  
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 沐宸, 慕辰, 慕宸

4. 茗泽 (Míngzé)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 4
No. of Boys 2021: 13,175
Meaning: tea leaf benevolence  
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 明泽, 铭泽

5. 奕辰 (Yìchén)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 5
No. of Boys 2021: 12,583
Meaning: grand sun, moon, stars
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 亦辰, 奕宸, 亦宸

6. 宇泽 (Yǔzé)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 6
No. of Boys 2021: 12,191
Meaning: universe benevolence
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 雨泽, 宇择

7. 浩然 (Hàorán)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 7
No. of Boys 2021: 11,808
Meaning: vastness
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 皓然, 昊然

8. 奕泽 (Yìzé)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 8
No. of Boys 2021: 10,899
Meaning: grand benevolence
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 亦泽, 奕择

9. 宇轩 (Yǔxuān)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 9
No. of Boys 2021: 10,825
Meaning: universe high
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 雨轩, 宇宣

10. 沐阳 (Mùyáng)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 10
No. of Boys 2021: 10,212
Meaning: bathe in the sun
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 慕阳, 沐杨, 慕杨

Most Popular Chinese Names for Girls in 2021

popular Chinese girl names

As for Chinese girls’ names, the competition was a little fiercer this year: 若汐 (Ruòxī) is the most popular name, with 一诺 (Yīnuò), the top name of 2020, coming in a close second. 艺涵 (Yìhán) and 依诺 (Yīnuò) secured the third and fourth spots, followed by some familiar names from years past. 苡沫 (Yǐmò) also made its debut in the top 10 rankings, and 梦瑶 (Mèngyáo) left the top 10.

Heres a rundown of the top 10 most popular names for girls in China in 2021, along with their meanings.

1. 若汐 (Ruòxī)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 1
No. of Girls 2021: 18,293
Meaning: resemble night tide
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 若曦, 若熙, 若希

2. 一诺 (Yīnuò)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 2
No. of Girls 2021: 16,884
Meaning: one promise
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 依诺, 伊诺

3. 艺涵 (Yìhán)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 3
No. of Girls 2021: 15,388
Meaning: art mellow
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 意涵, 奕涵, 亦涵

4. 依诺 (Yīnuò)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 4
No. of Girls 2021: 15,208
Meaning: follow promise
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 一诺, 伊诺

5. 梓涵 (Zǐhán)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 5
No. of Girls 2021: 14,221
Meaning: catalpa tree mellow
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 子涵, 紫涵

6. 苡沫 (Yǐmò)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 6
No. of Girls 2021: 13,352
Meaning: coix bubble
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 以沫, 苡墨, 以莫

7. 雨桐 (Yǔtóng)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 7
No. of Girls 2021: 11,916
Meaning: rain Firmiana Simplex tree
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 语桐, 雨彤, 语彤

8. 欣怡 (Xīnyí)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 8
No. of Girls 2021: 11,742
Meaning: joy
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 心怡

9. 语桐 (Yǔtóng)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 9
No. of Girls 2021: 10,795
Meaning: speak Firmiana Simplex tree
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 雨桐, 语彤, 雨彤

10. 语汐 (Yǔxī)

Popularity Rank in 2021: 10
No. of Girls 2021: 10,573
Meaning: speak night tide
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 雨汐, 雨熙, 语熙

How Do Chinese Name Their Babies?

Bathe in celestial abode, Coix bubble, Speak Firmiana Simplex tree…humm…Chinese names are weird – you must be thinking.

Except, they’re not.

The thing is: China has a unique baby-naming culture. There is really not a name pool or established list in the Chinese language like what we have in the Western (and many other) cultures. Chinese names can be infinite combinations of any of the 90,000 characters from the “character library”, and can take any meaning.

Chen Gangsheng
陈港生 (Chén Gǎngshēng) – the original Chinese name of Jackie Chan simply means “born in Hong Kong”.

Each Chinese name is individually crafted. When giving names to newborns, Chinese parents often choose characters with symbolic meanings that they hope their children will embody.

Traditionally, characters with connotations perceived as being either masculine or feminine attributes are preferred. For boys, this usually means characters that denote strength, might, or valor, and for girls, characters with suggestions of beauty, elegance, or fragrance.

Unlike in the West, people in China do not customarily recycle names used already in their extended family – this is considered disrespectful in Chinese culture.

So when it comes to naming the next generation, Chinese parents can get quite creative.

Some Chinese names may be inspired by nature – flowers, trees, animals, the forest, the ocean, the stars, some by place names – Berlin, Torino, Budapest…to get the child’s life journey off to a great start, while others may come from traditional literature or even philosophy – the Analects, the Book of Rites, the Mencius, to name just a few.

Chinese parents also look to major events or historical milestones, for inspiration for the names of their babies. For example, 建国 (Jiànguó), the most popular Chinese name in the 1950s referring to the founding of the People’s Republic of China (1949), and more recently 千禧 (Qiānxǐ) – “millennium” and 奥博 (Àobó) – “Olympics (2008, Beijing) and World Expo (2010, Shanghai)”.

In more traditional or religious families, concepts like 五行 (wǔxíng) – “Five Elements – gold, wood, water, fire, and earth” and 阴阳 (yīn yáng) – “Yin and Yang” in Chinese astrology also play a vital role in the choice of characters – they must follow the astrological rules and complement each other.

Since the parents believe that their baby’s destiny is written in his or her name, they take the naming seriously and usually seek advice from astrologers or “name consulting companies” on naming their child.

While most Chinese characters have a meaning that can be translated into English, not all Chinese names are fully translatable. Sometimes, the meaning or symbolism is highly personal and known only to the baby’s parents.

Naming in Chinese is essentially an art. A good Chinese name is not the simple mingling of aesthetic characters – it’s about their philosophical meaning, poetic connotation, and phonetic harmony as well.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Most Popular Chinese Names by Decade

Names are always a mirror of the times. 

From “build the country” to “grand sun, moon, stars”, popular Chinese names across the decades reflect China’s political and cultural transformations in a dramatic way.

Let’s take a look at the historical trends of Chinese names over the last 70+ years.

Top Chinese Names in the 1950s

RankMale NamesFemale Names
1建国 (Jiànguó) – “build the country”秀英 (Xiùyīng) – “elegance beauty”
2建华 (Jiànhuá) – “build China”桂英 (Guìyīng)- “laurel beauty”
3国华 (Guóhuá) – “national glory”秀兰 (Xiùlán) – “elegant orchid”
4和平 (Hépíng) – “peace” 玉兰 (Yùlán) – “magnolia”
5明 (Míng) – “brilliant”桂兰 (Guìlán) – “laurel orchid”
6建平 (Jiànpíng) – “build equality”秀珍 (Xiùzhēn) – “elegance treasure”
7军 (Jūn) – “army” 凤英 (Fèngyīng) – “phoenix beauty”
8平 (Píng) – “equal”玉珍 (Yùzhēn) – “jade treasure”
9志明 (Zhìmíng) – “ambition brilliant”玉英 (Yùyīng) – “jade beauty”
10德明 Démíng – “virtue brilliant”兰英 (Lányīng) – “orchid beauty”

In 1949, Chairman Mao announced the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Tian’anmen Square, setting in motion a chain of political and patriotic sentiments across the country. Tens of thousands of babies born in the 1950s were given a patriotic name such as 建国 (Jiànguó) – “build the country”, 建华 (Jiànhuá) – “build China” or 国华 (Guóhuá) – “national glory, or nation China” to represent parents’ collective hope for a prosperous country.

According to data from China’s National Citizen Identity Information Center, over 960,000 Chinese are currently registered with the name 建国 (Jiànguó), making it one of the most popular names throughout the history of China.

Some other popular Chinese names in the 1950s include 卫国 (Wèiguó) – “guard the country”, 保国 (Bǎoguó)- “protect the country”, 国强 (Guóqiáng) – “the country prospers”, 抗美 (Kàngměi) – “fight America”, and 援朝 (Yuáncháo) – “assist North Korea” to commemorate the Korean War when China fought alongside North Korea against the South and the United States.

patriotic Chinese names

Top Chinese Names in the 1960s

RankMale NamesFemale Names
1军 (Jūn) – “army” 秀英 (Xiùyīng) – “elegance beauty”
2勇 (Yǒng) – “brave”桂英 (Guìyīng)- “laurel beauty”
3伟 (Wěi) – “great”英 (Yīng) – “brave beauty”
4建国 (Jiànguó) – “build the country”玉兰 (Yùlán) – “magnolia”
5建华 (Jiànhuá) – “build China”萍 (Píng) – “duckweed”
6建军 (Jiànjūn) – “build the army”秀兰 (Xiùlán) – “elegant orchid”
7平 (Píng) – “equality”玉梅 (Yùméi) – “jade plum blossom”
8建平 (Jiànpíng) – “build equality”红 (Hóng) – “red”
9强 (Qiáng) – “strong”丽 (Lì) – “beautiful”
10斌 (Bīn) – “scholar & soldier”敏 (Mǐn) – “agile”

In the 1960s, Chinese parents continued to adopt patriotic names to demonstrate their support for the country and the Communist Party.

For example, many children were named 军 (Jūn) – “army”, 勇 (Yǒng) – “brave”, and 建军 (Jiànjūn) – “build the army” to show determination to fight against the increasing U.S. aggression.

Then the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), a decade-long ideological movement swept China. A lot of babies were given names like 红 (Hóng) – “red”, referring to the Communist revolution, 红兵 (Hóngbīng) – “red soldier”, 卫红 (Wèihóng) – “guard the red”, or 卫东 (Wèidōng) – “guard Dong (Chairman Mao Zedong)” as a way of demonstrating political loyalty.

The influence of the Cultural Revolution was so enormous at the time that many people directly used the word 文革 (Wéngé) – meaning “Cultural Revolution” – as their child’s name.

Deng Wenge
The birth name of Wendi Deng Murdoch (born 1968), a Chinese-American entrepreneur, and the third wife of News Corporation chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch (1999-2013) is 邓文革 (Dèng Wéngé) – Cultural Revolution.

Top Chinese Names in the 1970s

RankMale NamesFemale Names
1勇 (Yǒng) – “brave”丽 (Lì) – “beautiful”
2军 (Jūn) – “army” 艳 (Yàn) – “gorgeous”
3伟 (Wěi) – “great”敏 (Mǐn) – “agile”
4强 (Qiáng) – “strong”芳 (Fāng) – “fragrance”
5刚 (Gāng) – “tenacious”静 (Jìng) – “tranquil”
6建军 (Jiànjūn) – “build the army”霞 (Xiá) – “rosy clouds”
7涛 (Tāo) – “large wave” 红梅 (Hóngméi) – “red plum blossom”
8斌 (Bīn) – “scholar & soldier”燕 (Yàn) – “swallow (bird)”
9波 (Bō) – “wave”红 (Hóng) – “red”
10辉 (Huī) -”brightness”英 (Yīng) – “brave beauty”

After the decade-long period of social chaos, Chinese people became much less political, longing for inner peace and simple life.  

The propaganda-like names went out of fashion after the Communist Party loosened its grip on the economy and people’s lives in the late 1970s. Modern, concise single-character names speaking about traits or qualities became the new trend, for example, 强 (Qiáng) – “strong”, 刚 (Gāng) – “tenacious” for boys, or 艳 (Yàn) – “gorgeous”, 静 (Jìng) – “tranquil” for girls.

Top Chinese Names in the 1980s

RankMale NamesFemale Names
1伟 (Wěi) – “great”静 (Jìng) – “tranquil”
2磊 (Lěi) – “rocks”丽 (Lì) – “beautiful”
3勇 (Yǒng) – “brave”娟 (Juān) – “beautiful”
4涛 (Tāo) – “large wave” 艳 (Yàn) – “gorgeous”
5超 (Chāo) – “surpass”燕 (Yàn) – “swallows (birds)”
6强 (Qiáng) – “strong”敏 (Mǐn) – “agile”
7鹏 (Péng) – “a legendary bird”娜 (Nà) – “graceful”
8军 (Jūn) – “army” 芳 (Fāng) – “fragrance”
9波 (Bō) – “wave”丹 (Dān) – “vermilion”
10杰 (Jié) – “outstanding”玲 (Líng) – “exquisite”

The implementation of the one-child policy starting in 1979 further spurred people to ditch the traditional Chinese naming pattern of generational name plus personal name – and instead use a brief one-character name for the only child of the family.

Until the middle of the 20th century, a traditional Chinese given name was composed of a generational name and a personal name, each represented by one character. The generational name marks the position of the bearer in the sequence of generations within a big family and is shared among one’s siblings.

For example, three children from the same family could be named:

国 Wáng Jiànguó
华 Wáng Jiànhuá
萍 Wáng Jiànpíng
(建 Jiàn is their generational name)

Meanwhile, characters that ooze an elegant vibe became more popular. For instance, 玲 (Líng) – “exquisite”, 丹 (Dān) – “vermilion”, 娜 (Nà) – “graceful”.

Li Na
You probably know the name 李娜 (Lǐ Nà), a now-retired Chinese tennis player (born 1982) who has won two Grand Slam titles. The name, meaning “Graceful Li” is reportedly the most common full name for Chinese women, with 273,074 bearers across the country.

Top Chinese Names in the 1990s

RankMale NamesFemale Names
1伟 (Wěi) – “great”静 (Jìng) – “tranquil”
2超 (chāo) – “surpass”婷 (Tíng) – “graceful”
3涛 (Tāo) – “large wave” 敏 (Mǐn) – “agile”
4杰 (Jié) – “outstanding”婷婷 (Tíngtíng) – “graceful”
5鹏 (Péng) – “a legendary bird”丹 (Dān) – “vermilion”
6磊 (Lěi) – “rocks”雪 (Xuě) – “snow”
7强 (Qiáng) – “strong”丽 (Lì) – “beautiful”
8浩 (Hào) – “vast”倩 (Qiàn) – “beauty”
9鑫 (Xīn) – “prosperity”艳 (Yàn) – “gorgeous”
10帅 (Shuài) – “handsome”娟 (Juān) – “beautiful”

For the second consecutive decade, 伟 (Wěi) – “great” and 静 (Jìng) – “tranquil” topped the list of the most popular Chinese names for boys and girls, respectively.

Names with a doubled pair of characters (repeating the same character twice) also gained more popularity in the 1990s. These are usually reserved for girls and meant to double the cuteness. For instance, 婷婷 (Tíngtíng), which is essentially the diminutive of 婷 (Tíng) made it to the top four on the list.

Other popular names of this era with doubled characters include 丽丽 (Lìlì), 倩倩 (Qiànqiàn), 冰冰 (Bīngbīng), and so on.  

Top Chinese Names in the 2000s

RankMale NamesFemale Names
1涛 (Tāo) – “large wave” 婷 (Tíng) – “graceful”
2浩 (Hào) – “vast”欣怡 (Xīnyí) – “joy”
3杰 (Jié) – “outstanding”婷婷 (Tíngtíng) – “graceful”
4鑫 (Xīn) – “prosperity”静 (Jìng) – “tranquil”
5俊杰 (Jùnjié) – “outstanding talent”悦 (Yuè) – “joy”
6磊 (Lěi) – “rocks”敏 (Mǐn) – “agile”
7帅 (Shuài) – “handsome”佳怡 (Jiāyí) – “pleasant joy”
8宇 (Yǔ) – “universe”雪 (Xuě) – “snow”
9浩然 (Hàorán) – “vastness”颖 (Yǐng) – “clever”
10鹏 (Péng) – “a legendary bird”雨欣 (Yǔxīn) – “rain joy”

The pool of Chinese names became more varied in the 21 century. Double-character names gained traction again with five names cracking the top 20 list.

Pop culture started to influence baby-naming in China for the first time in the 2000s. For example, after the Singaporean singer JJ Lin (Chinese: 林俊杰 Lín Jùnjié) made his name in 2003, a lot of baby boys were named as 俊杰 (Jùnjié) after the pop icon.  

Lin Junjie

Western-sounding names also emerged as China increased interaction with the outside world. For example, 艾伦 (Àilún), 安娜 (Ānnà), 丽莎 (Lìshā), which are the Chinese transliterations of Allen, Anna, Lisa.

Top Chinese Names in the 2010s

RankMale NamesFemale Names
1浩宇 (Hàoyǔ) – “vast universe”欣怡 (Xīnyí) – “joy”
2浩然 (Hàorán) – “vastness”梓涵 (Zǐhán) – “ catalpa tree mellow”
3宇轩 (Yǔxuān) – “universe high”诗涵 (Shīhán) – “poetic mellow”
4子轩 (Zǐxuān) – “refined high”梓萱 (Zǐhán) – “ catalpa tree & tawny day-lily”
5宇航 (Yǔháng) -”universe cruise”子涵 (Zǐhán) – “refined mellow”
6皓轩 (Hàoxuān) – “bright high”紫涵 (Zǐhán) – “purple mellow”
7子豪 (Zǐháo) – “refined heroic”佳怡 (Jiāyí) – “pleasant joy”
8浩轩 (Hàoxuān) – “vast high”雨涵 (Yǔhán) – “rain mellow”
9俊杰 (Jùnjié) – “outstanding talent”雨欣 (Yǔxīn) – “rain joy”
10子涵 (Zǐhán) – “refined mellow”一诺 (Yīnuò) – “one promise”

In the 2010s, the majority of newborn babies in China were given double-character given names to avoid name duplication.

The most popular boy names included 浩宇 (Hàoyǔ) – “vast universe” and 浩然 (Hàorán) – “vastness”, both of which denoting ambition and might.

As for girls, the favorite names lurking at the top were 欣怡 (Xīnyí) – “joy” and 梓涵 (Zǐhán) – “ catalpa tree mellow”, reflecting a pleasant personality.

Unisex or gender-neutral Chinese names also became more popular in this decade. For instance, 子涵 (Zǐhán) – a name composed of two gender-fluid characters 子 (zǐ) and 涵 (hán) rose to the 5th place for girl names and the 10th place for boy names.

Most Common Full Chinese Names

most common Chinese names

Now you’ve seen the lists of most popular names for each decade, it’s time to look at the most common Chinese names at present.

To help Chinese parents craft better baby names, the Ministry of Public Security of China has launched an online platform where one can check the number of duplicate names used within the country. According to the platform, here are the top 10 most common surname and given name combinations in China and the number of individuals with that combo.

RankNamePopulation CountMalesFemales
1张伟 (Zhāng Wěi)294,282252,22442,058
2王伟 (Wáng Wěi)287,101244,95842,143
3李娜 (Lǐ Nà)273,074318272,756
4王芳 (Wáng Fāng)271,5503,213268,337
5李伟 (Lǐ Wěi)266,037227,07738,960
6王静 (Wáng Jìng)249,41613,642235,774
7李静 (Lǐ Jìng)248,89819,211229,687
8张敏 (Zhāng Mǐn)247,15140,224206,927
9刘伟 (Liú Wěi)237,853200,36837,485
10张静 (Zhāng Jìng)237,71314,374223,339

The number shows 张伟 (Zhāng Wěi) is the most common Chinese full name as of today, with 252,224 males and 42,058 females in China carrying the name, followed by 王伟 (Wáng Wěi) and 李娜 (Lǐ Nà).

Not surprisingly, combinations formed by the most common surnames and the most common given names dominate the ranking.

Now, here’s the interesting part.

Even if a character is predominantly associated with male or female traits, one is still free to use it for the opposite sex. For instance, 李娜 (Lǐ Nà) – a traditional female name meaning “Graceful Li” – is also carried by 318 men in China.

So next time you encounter a Chinese name with a masculine/feminine element – obvious or subtle, don’t take it for granted!

Chinese Naming Trends – Popular & Trending Names

trendy Chinese names

As in most countries, the list of popular names in China changes annually typically influenced by trends, tradition, as well as pop culture.

While single-character given names have been having their moment for the past few decades, the trend now is shifting more towards double-character names, in a bid for parents to make their child more unique.

Every year, the Ministry of Public Security of China analyzes the names of newborns from all over the country, and their 2021 report shows that “93.2 % of the babies born in the previous year were given a double-character name, while 4.5% adopted a more concise single-character name”. Besides, longer Chinese names containing three or even more characters have also grown in popularity in recent years.

In terms of character choice, some new trends also emerged, like the new obsession with using “poetic” characters to make up the name, with the likes of 泽 (zé), 梓 (zǐ), 沐 (mù), 宸 (chén), and 涵 (hán) all seeing a surge in popularity.

Top 50 Occurring Characters in Chinese Names (2021)

The government data provides details on which characters were most loved among parents in 2021.  

Here’s the full low down on the 50 most popular characters used in Chinese baby names right now:

RankCharacterPinyinMeaning
1paradigm
2catalpa tree
3person (respectful)
4universe
5bathe
6one
7chéncelestial abode
8hánmellow
9chénsun, moon, stars
10grand
11art
12jiāwonderful
13rain
14xīnjoy or admire
15jiāpleasant
16hàovast
17xuānhigh
18chénmorning
19speak or language
20night tide
21nuòpromise
22think
23yánbeauty
24broad
25wéngentle and quiet
26ānpeace
27ruìclever
28ruòlike, resemble
29xuāntawny day-lily
30yuèmusic
31shīpoem
32yángsun
33follow
34luminosity or joy
35jùnhandsome
36ránthe state of…
37he or she
38tóngFirmiana Simplex
39ruìnew grass
40joy
41líncontinuous rain
42hángcruise
43jǐnbrocade
44shine or flame
45míngimprint
46able
47yáobeautiful jade
48yuèjoy
49hàowhite or bright
50tóngred

And in terms of name sounds, “yi” is the top pick for babies born in 2021. The syllable is represented by six different characters in the top 50 ranking – 一 (one), 奕 (grand), 艺 (art), , 依 (follow), , and 伊 (he or she), and 怡 (joy).

Popular Chinese names often mirror the values of the era in which they were chosen. Besides naming traditions that have been passed down through generations, more and more younger parents are seeking inspiration from ancient Chinese literature and philosophy, as part of a wider resurgence of interest in Chinese antiquity

For example, 一诺  (Yīnuò) – the most trendy girl name of 2020 was inspired from the thousand-year-old Chinese idiom 一诺千金 (yí nuò qiān jīn), which means “a promise is worth a thousand pieces of gold, or keeping one’s promise”. And the popular boy name 浩然 (Hàorán) came from Mencius’ teaching: 吾善养吾浩然之气 (Wú shàn yǎng wú hàorán zhī qì), meaning “I excel at cultivating the greatness in me”.

Like the rest of the world, the obsession with pop culture also has ripples in China where baby names are concerned.

Even though it’s considered bad practice to copy the names of celebrities in Chinese culture, millennial parents who grew up in a relatively liberal China have abandoned the tradition, often opting for “celebrity-themed” names.

A common practice is to use a homo-phonic character to replace the character used in a celebrity’s name to add an extra layer of uniqueness. So expect to hear of more babies named “Yibo”, “Yiru”, “Sichun”, “Minghao” and “Jia’er” (who are currently some of the most influential pop idols in China), or their crossovers, than ever before!

As you might well have guessed, the one thing Chinese parents didn’t take inspiration from when it comes to naming their children this year is… coronavirus (Chinese: 新冠 xīnguān), which means names containing the characters 新 (xīng) and 冠 (guān) were on the decline.

Instead, names echoing sun, moon, stars, and light were popular, indicating a wish for brightness, strength and resilience among all the dark news that has been happening.

While the baby naming trends in China come and go over the years, most seem to stick around for a long time, so you can pretty much assume that baby-naming patterns in this decade will look something similar.

FAQ

According to data released by China’s Ministry of Public Security in 2022, 张伟 (Zhāng Wěi) is the most common full name in China, with 294, 282 people sharing the name nationwide including 252,224 males and 42,058 females.

英 (yīng), which has the meaning of “brave, handsome, or beauty”, is the most frequently used character in Chinese given names over the last 70 years. It is followed by 华 (huá), 文 (wén), 玉 (yù), and 秀 (xiù).

Based on the names of 8.873 million babies born in 2021, 沐宸 (Mùchén) is the most popular baby name in China, with 22,958 boys given the name. The most popular name for girls in China is 若汐 (Ruòxī), with 18,293 baby girls registering it as their name last year.

In Chinese name order, 姓 (xìng) – the family name, comes before 名 (míng) – the given name. However, people with experience of living in the West would sometimes reverse the order when interacting in English to conform to the common Western practice. 

No, a Chinese person’s name only consists of a family name, and a given name, and there is no middle name in between them (nor does it exist).  

According to Chinese law, a Chinese name (family name plus given name) must be between two and six characters in length. However, people of ethnic minority are entitled to use more characters to transliterate their names into Chinese on documents.

Chinese people sometimes give themselves English names to demonstrate their awareness of Western culture (which is usually considered to be cool). This is quite common after China’s Reform and Opening-up in the late 1970s when young people started to learn English.

Besides, for foreigners with no prior knowledge of the Chinese language, some Chinese names could be incredibly difficult to pronounce, or they could turn into something ridiculous when forcibly read or spelled out (e.g, 诗婷, a beautiful girl name which means “poetic beauty”, would, unfortunately, become “Shiting” when transcribed in Pinyin) – another reason why many Chinese prefer to use their self-chosen English names when interacting with foreigners.

The easiest way of asking someone’s name in Chinese is to say 你叫什么? (Nǐ jiào shénme?) – literally, “You are called what?”, although there are other ways to ask for the same information on different occasions. Read more about asking “what’s your name” in Chinese.

Thinking about creating a Chinese name for yourself but don’t know how?

Worry not! We’ve written a quick guide to help you get started. Learn how you can make an authentic and cool Chinese name (even if you don’t know Chinese)!

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