Each native Chinese name has a particular meaning which usually express that a father, grandfather, or himself hopes, wishes the name owner to be or to do. That is naming culture in China.
Normally, When a baby is going to be born, his/her father or grandfather is engaged to search a good sentence or phrase in dictionaries, classics, poetry, etc which represents his hopes or wishes, then extracts one or two words from it to compose the baby's name.
But, our latest statistics shows that the words used most frequently in boy's names still follow a basic rule. That is that words for boy's names are those represent 'strong, powerful, gleaming brightness, shiny quality, brilliance, prosperous, flourishing, dragon, outstanding person, hero, mountain, gentle, mild, refined, etc'.
The top 20 words for man's names are listed as follow. You could compare them to know briefly the meaning of Chinese names. Note that the top words we are talking about are the last characters of given names because they determine mainly the meaning of the names.
强, qiang, means '1. strong, or powerful; 2. (usually used for a comparison) better, or superior; 3. (used after a fraction or decimal) slightly more than; 4. by force; 5. make or cause become stronger; strengthen; 6. make (sb./oneself) do sth. he/one does not want to do; compel; oblige; force; 7. do with difficulty; manage with an effort; make an effort'. Example names are Li Keqiang, Wang Baoqiang, Danny Chan, Wong Ka Keung, Tang Guoqiang, Lim Hng Kiang, Chan Sek Keong, Low Thia Khiang, Ha Hung Cuong, Roger R. Chi Keung Chen.
华, hua, means '1. gleaming brightness, shiny quality, or brilliance; 2. prosperous, or flourishing; 3. in luxury or extravagant; 4. (hair) grey or grizzled; 5. best or finest part of something; 6. time; days; 7. China'. Example names are Andy Lau, Wallace Huo, Felix Wong Yat Wa, Simon Yam, Datuk Peter CHIN FAH KUI, S. Iswaran, Hovav Ref, Chaerun Anwar, Guo Yuehua, Chen Xinhua.
明, ming, means '1. bright, brilliant, or light; 2. clear, or distinct; 3. open, overt, or explicit; 4. sharp-eyed, clear-sighted; 5. immediately following in time, or next; 6. sight (of eyes); 7. brightness; 8. understand; know; 9. name of Ming Dynasty in ancient China'. Example names are Yao Ming, Huang Xiaoming, Chen Daoming, Mint Guo, Leon Lai Ming, Canti Lau, Wong Anthony, Bala Chandran Shankar, Nguyen Minh Triet, Nguyen Minh Quang.
龙, long, means '1. dragon animal; 2. huge extinct reptile, such as a dinosaur; 3. as a symbols of the emperor, or the emperor'. Example names are Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Juno Mak, Liu Yunlong, Lee Hsien Loong, Eyal Yaron, Imron Cotan, Marolop Nainggolan, Chen Longcan, Fan Changlong.
平, piong, means '1. flat, level, even, or smooth; 2. equal, fair, or impartial; 3. average, or common; 4. make level or even; level; 5. be on the same level; be on a par; equal; 6. calm; assuage; pacify; 7. put down; suppress'. Example names are Deng Xiaoping, Xi Jinping, Larry Hsien Ping Lang, Zhang Ping, Chinmoy Naik, Truong Hoa Binh.
文, wen, means '1. characters of a language; 2. language, such as English, Chinese, or French; 3. literary composition; writing; 4. literary language; 5. state of intellectual development of a society; 6. arts; subjects of study; 7. formal ritual in the past; 8. certain natural phenomena, such as astronomy, etc; 9. civil, or non-military; 10. gentle, mild, or refined; 11. cover up; paint over; 12. tattoo; 13. measure word for copper cash in the past'. Example names are Sun Yat sen, Jiang Wen, Dean Wu, Shawn Yue, Chiu Man Cheuk, Wang Zhiwen, Khaw Boon Wan, Ran Peleg, Vinayak P. Chavan, Tran Van Tuan.
民, min, means '1. people; 2. member of a nationality; 3. person of a certain occupation; 4. among the people, popular or folk; 5. civil, non-military'. Example names are Jiang Zemin, Benny Chan, Vic Chou, Yin Weimin, Mao Zemin.
亮, liang, means '1. bright, light, or full of light; 2. loud and clear; 3. enlightened, or cheerful; 4. shine; 5. make one's voice loud and clear; 6. show or reveal (an opinion, view)'. Example names are Anthony Lun, Liang Geliang, Huang Liang, Zhuge Liang.
生, sheng, means '1. give birth to; bear; 2. be born; come into existence; 3. grow; develop; 4. light (a fire); 5. life; living; 6. student; pupil; 7. (suffix, used in names of occupations or stations of person); 8. alive, or living; 9. unripe, or green; 10. raw, or uncooked; 11. unprocessed, unrefined, or crude; 12. unfamiliar, unacquainted, or strange; 13. stiff, or mechanical; 14. (used before certain words indicating feeling or perception) very, or much'. Example names are Anthony Wong, Chen Chusheng, Zhou Shenxian, Lim Swee Say, S. Jaishankar, Nguyen Sinh Hung, Xu Yinsheng.
光, guang, means '1. light; 2. scenery; 3. honor; glory; 4. brightness; luster; 5. glorify; bring honor to; 6. bare; be naked; 7. bare, or naked; 8. smooth, glossy, or polished; 9. all gone, used up, or nothing left; 10. only, alone'. Example names are Michael Wong, Liang Guanglie, Shen Guangzu, Lee Kuan Yew, Sandeep Jakhar, Phung Quang Thanh, Pham Quang Nghi, Tran Dai Quang, Nguyen Minh Quang, To Quang Thu.
宇, yu, means '1. house; 2. space; universe; world; 3. (of a person) stylishness, or pleasing accomplishment; 4. (of a person) idiosyncrasy, or temperament'. Example names are Francis Ng, Ray Liang, Phil Chang, Adarsh Swaika, Mao Xinyu.
Sun Yat-sen has several Chinese names in his life.
Formal name given by his teacher. When he was 10 years old and went to a private school, the teacher named him Sun Wen, in Chinese symbol . The first Chinese character is his family name; and the second one is Wen, means gentle, mild, or refined; literary composition; writing, is one of the most common characters used for Chinese man's names. This Chinese name is his formal name, was used to the signature of documents and orders.
Another name extracted from an inscription. When he was 17, and studied at the Anglican Diocesan Home and Orphanage (now the Diocesan Boys' School) in Hong Kong, he gave himself a courtesy name Ri Xin, in Chinese symbols ); they are extracted from an ancient inscription on a bath of an outstanding Emperor. The inscription is gou ri xin ri ri xin you ri xin, in Chinese ; it means originally a person should take a bath everyday to remove the dust and dirt of body. If he takes a bath at the first day, he has to do it at the next day, and can not be discontinued; and the extended meaning a person should learn more day after day, can not be discontinued.
A name for an ordinary young man I know is: Zhang Xudong, in Chinese ; the first character of which is his family name; and the last two, his given name, are extracted from the first and third word of a Chinese phrase xu ri dong sheng, in Chinese , means the sun rising in the east - display of youthful vigour and vitality; be in the ascendant. His mother told me that at the moment when the boy was born, the sun was rising, then grandpa gave this name to the boy.
In China, it is not common to use numbers as a name, and rarer to name all family members with numbers. Knowing Names for the family members of Zhu Yuanzhan, the first Emperor of Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368 - 1644), I am sure, is a unique opportunity to know more about Chinese names.
His fifth-generation grandpa was named Zhu Zhongba, in Chinese , the first Chinese character of which is his family name Zhu; the second one Zhong means second, and Ba is eight. (Details on numbers in Chinese).
Zhu Sijiu, or Zhu Four Nine, was the grand-grandpa of the Emperor and got 4 boys:
Zhu Chuyi or Zhu First Day was the grandpa of the Emperor. He had two sons:
The Five Four was the Chinese name of the father of the Emperor. The Emperor had four brothers.
After Zhu Chongba, or Zhu Second Eight, gained fame and fortune, he changed his name as Zhu Yuanzhang, in Chinese .
A Chinese given name usually is taken from a sentence in the classics, a phrase, lines of poetry, etc and carries its meaning.
Chinese characters meaning 'strong, powerful, gleaming brightness, shiny quality, brilliance, prosperous, flourishing, dragon, outstanding person, hero, mountain, gentle, mild, refined, etc' are commonly used for Chinese man's names.