Most Popular Chinese Names (Trends in 2021 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 February 2021, 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 Names Girl Names
1 奕辰 (Yìchén): 14,620 一诺 (Yīnuò): 24,820
2 宇轩 (Yǔxuān):14,479 依诺 (Yīnuò): 19426
3 浩宇 (Hàoyǔ): 14,104 欣怡 (Xīnyí): 17,623
4 亦辰 (Yìchén): 14,034 梓涵 (Zǐhán): 14,626
5 宇辰 (Yǔchén): 13,234 语桐 (Yǔtóng): 12,444
6 子墨 (Zǐmò): 12,534 欣妍 (Xīnyán): 12,096
7 宇航 (Yǔháng): 11,609 可欣 (Kěxīn): 12,022
8 浩然 (Hàorán): 11,557 语汐 (Yǔxī): 11,969
9 梓豪 (Zǐháo): 10,895 雨桐 (Yǔtóng): 11,637
10 亦宸 (Yìchén): 10,844 梦瑶 (Mèngyáo): 11,128

(The number after the names stands for the number of babies given that name in 2020.)

The report, compiled by the Ministry this year, analyzed the names chosen for 5.29 million boys and 4.745 million girls born between January 1 and December 30, 2020, in China. It reveals that the top names for Chinese newborns are 奕辰 (Yìchén) for boys and 一诺 (Yīnuò) for girls.

Compared with the previous year, there has been no change to the top four names for girls, while the most popular name for boys in 2019 – 浩宇 (Hàoyǔ) is now toppled by 奕辰 (Yìchén) and 宇轩 (Yǔxuān).

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 top two most popular Chinese names for baby girls in 2020 happen to be 一诺 and 依诺, both pronounced “Yīnuò” 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 2020

popular Chinese boy names

奕辰 (Yìchén) is officially the king of Chinese boys’ names in 2020. 宇轩 (Yǔxuān) comes in a close second with only 141 babies less given the name. 浩宇 (Hàoyǔ) – the top name of 2019, dropped two places.

Most notably, the character 宇 (yǔ), meaning “universe”, appeared four times in the top 10 ranking. Names containing 辰 (Yìchén), meaning “sun, moon, stars” are also popular. 子墨 (Zǐmò) and 梓豪 (Zǐháo) are the only two names in the top 10 that don’t relate to the grand universe or cosmos.

Here’s a rundown of the top 10 most popular names for boys in China in 2020, along with their meanings.

1. 奕辰 (Yìchén)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 1
No. of Boys 2020: 14,620
Meaning: grand sun, moon, stars
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 亦辰, 奕宸, 亦宸

2. 宇轩 (Yǔxuān)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 2
No. of Boys 2020: 14,479
Meaning: universe high
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 雨轩, 宇宣

3. 浩宇 (Hàoyǔ)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 3
No. of Boys 2020: 14,104
Meaning: vast universe
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 皓宇, 昊宇

4. 亦辰 (Yìchén)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 4
No. of Boys 2020: 14,034
Meaning: also universe
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 奕辰, 亦宸, 奕宸

5. 宇辰 (Yǔchén)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 5
No. of Boys 2020: 13,234
Meaning: universe, sun, moon, stars
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 宇宸, 宇晨

6. 子墨 (Zǐmò)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 6
No. of Boys 2020: 12,534
Meaning: refined ink
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 梓墨, 子默

7. 宇航 (Yǔháng)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 7
No. of Boys 2020: 11,609
Meaning: universe cruise
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 雨航

8. 浩然 (Hàorán)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 7
No. of Boys 2020: 11,557
Meaning: vastness
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 皓然, 昊然

9. 梓豪 (Zǐháo)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 9
No. of Boys 2020: 10,895
Meaning: catalpa tree heroic
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 子豪

10. 亦宸 (Yìchén)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 10
No. of Boys 2020: 10,844
Meaning: also celestial abode
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 奕宸, 亦辰, 奕辰

Most Popular Chinese Names for Girls in 2020

popular Chinese girl names

As for Chinese girls’ names, 一诺 (Yīnuò), 依诺 (Yīnuò), 欣怡 (Xīnyí) and 梓涵 (Zǐhán) took the top four spots for the second year in a row. 梦瑶 (Mèngyáo) made its debut in the top 10 ranking – which could be the influence of 奚梦瑶 (Xī Mèngyáo), a Chinese supermodel who made national headlines for marrying Mario Ho, the son of Macao casino tycoon and winning the title of “Breakthrough Woman of the Year”.

Here are the top 10 Chinese names of the year for girls according to the 2021 government report.

1. 一诺 (Yīnuò)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 1
No. of Girls 2020: 24,820
Meaning: one promise
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 依诺, 伊诺

2. 依诺 (Yīnuò)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 2
No. of Girls 2020: 19,426
Meaning: follow promise
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 一诺, 伊诺

3. 欣怡 (Xīnyí)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 3
No. of Girls 2020: 17,623
Meaning: joy
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 心怡

4. 梓涵 (Zǐhán)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 4
No. of Boys 2020: 14,626
Meaning: catalpa tree mellow
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 子涵, 紫涵

5. 语桐 (Yǔtóng)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 5
No. of Girls 2020: 12,444
Meaning: speak Firmiana Simplex tree
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 雨桐, 语彤, 雨彤

6. 欣妍 (Xīnyán)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 6
No. of Girls 2020: 12,096
Meaning: joy beauty, or admire beauty
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 心妍, 馨妍

7. 可欣 (Kěxīn)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 7
No. of Girls 2020: 12,022
Meaning: merit admiration
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 可心, 可馨

8. 语汐 (Yǔxī)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 8
No. of Girls 2020: 11,969
Meaning: speak night tide
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 雨汐, 雨熙, 语熙

9. 雨桐 (Yǔtóng)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 9
No. of Girls 2020: 11,637
Meaning: rain Firmiana Simplex tree
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 语桐, 雨彤, 语彤

10. 梦瑶 (Mèngyáo)

Popularity Rank in 2020: 10
No. of Girls 2020: 11,128
Meaning: dreaming of jade or beauty
Same-sounding names in alternate characters: 梦遥

How Do Chinese Name Their Babies?

Refined ink, Speak night tide, Rain 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

Rank Male Names Female 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

Rank Male Names Female 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

Rank Male Names Female 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

Rank Male Names Female 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

Rank Male Names Female 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

Rank Male Names Female 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

Rank Male Names Female 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.

Rank Name Population Count Males Females
1 张伟 (Zhāng Wěi) 294,282 252,224 42,058
2 王伟 (Wáng Wěi) 287,101 244,958 42,143
3 李娜 (Lǐ Nà) 273,074 318 272,756
4 王芳 (Wáng Fāng) 271,550 3,213 268,337
5 李伟 (Lǐ Wěi) 266,037 227,077 38,960
6 王静 (Wáng Jìng) 249,416 13,642 235,774
7 李静 (Lǐ Jìng) 248,898 19,211 229,687
8 张敏 (Zhāng Mǐn) 247,151 40,224 206,927
9 刘伟 (Liú Wěi) 237,853 200,368 37,485
10 张静 (Zhāng Jìng) 237,713 14,374 223,339

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 last 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 梓 (zǐ), 奕 (yì), 轩 (xuān), and 涵 (hán) all seeing a surge in popularity.

Top 50 Occurring Characters in Chinese Names (2020)

The government data provides details on which characters were most loved among parents in 2020.  

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

Rank Character Pinyin Meaning
1 catalpa tree
2 person (respectful)
3 universe
4 chén sun, moon, stars
5 one
6 chén celestial abode
7 paradigm
8 jiā wonderful
9 xīn joy or admire
10 jiā pleasant
11 grand
12 xuān high
13 chén morning
14 hán mellow
15 think
16 nuò promise
17 rain
18 speak or language
19 ruì clever
20 wén gentle and quiet
21 yán beauty
22 ān peace
23 broad
24 joy
25 follow
26 hào vast
27 bathe
28 míng imprint
29 shī poem
30 yuè a legendary pearl
31 jùn handsome
32 rán the state of…
33 tóng red
34 yuè music
35 hào white or bright
36 beautiful jade
37 yáo beautiful jade
38 yuè joy
39 art
40 tóng Firmiana Simplex
41 luminosity or joy
42 shine or flame
43 yáng sun
44 jǐn brocade
45 he or she
46 xīn dawn
47 ēn favor
48 able
49 ruò like, resemble
50 xuān tawny day-lily

And in terms of name sounds, “yi” is the top pick for babies born in 2020. The syllable is represented by six different characters in the top 50 ranking – 一 (one), 奕 (grand), 怡 (joy), 依 (follow), 艺 (art), and 伊 (he or she).

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 “Yifan”, “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 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 2021, 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 10,035 million babies born in 2020, 一诺 (Yīnuò) is the most popular baby name in China, with 24,820 girls given the name. The most popular name for boys in China is 奕辰 (Yìchén), with 14,620 male babies 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)!