5 Most Common Last Names in Chinese and Their Meaning (Bonus: Chart Of Top 100 Surnames)

There are approximately 6000 surnames used in China today. However, the top 100 most common Chinese last names make up 85.9% of 1.4 billion population. What’s more, 30.8% of China’s registered population bears one of the top 5 surnames

In today’s article, we’ll give you a brief introduction to the top 5 most popular last names and their meanings. Also, we’ll bring you a chart of the top 100 most common Chinese last names.

1. Wang (王)

This is the most common surname in Mainland China with 101.5 million bearers. This last name has a royal origin and also means “king”. itself is a radical and can stand alone as an independent character.

As you may know, there are many Chinese dialect groups so a character can be spelled slightly differently depending on where the speakers come from. This last name is spelled “Wang” in Mandarin, “Wong” in Cantonese, Waan” or “Waon” in Shanghainese or “Ong” or “Bong” in Hokkien.

Famous people with the surname Wáng include fashion designer Vera Wang (Chinese name: Wáng Wēiwēi 王薇薇), and female table tennis player Wang Nan 王楠, who ranked #1 on the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) ranking system from January 1999 to November 2002.

2. Li (李)

The second most common surname in China, which is used by 100 million Chinese. Geographically, Li is one of the most common surnames in North China and Southwest China in such provinces as Sichuan, Yunnan, Chongqing, Hubei, and Hunan. is a radical compound character which means “plum”. Thanks to the radical mù “tree”, you can guess the meaning of is somehow related to a tree. 

is pronounced as ‘Lee’ or ’Lei’ in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and many other overseas Chinese communities. The common Korean surname, Lee is derived from Li.

Famous people with the surname Lǐ   include martial arts master Bruce Lee (Chinese name: Lǐ Xiǎolóng 李小龙) and Li Ka-shing 李嘉誠, a Hong Kong business magnate who ranks #30 in the list of top richest peoples in the world. 

3. Zhang (张)

Ranking at third place is the last name Zhang . This surname dates back to the time of the Yellow Emperor, one of the legendary Chinese sovereigns and culture heroes. His grandson was bestowed the surname Zhang after he invented the bow and arrow. That explains why the character has the radical gōng which means “bow”. 

is spelled “Chang’ in Taiwanese, ‘Cheung’ or ‘Cheong’ in Cantonese and ‘Chong’ in Hakka.

Famous people with the surname Zhāng  include Hong Kong actor Jacky Cheung (Chinese name: Zhāng Xuéyǒu 张学友) and Chinese American figure skater Caroline Zhang (Chinese name: Zhāng Yuányuán 张圆圆).

4. Liú (刘)

Next in line is the clan name Liú . Liú was the royal surname in the Han Dynasty. is a compound character which is composed of the radicaldāo “knife” and a component. Standing alone as an independent character, radical of the knife is written as . However, when it’s combined with a component to form a radical compound, it’ll be distorted and appear in the form of instead. With the radical hinting at the meaning, it’s no surprise to know that means “kill”. So don’t you dare to mess with any Mr. Liú!

This character is pronounced as ‘Low’ or ‘Lau’ in Cantonese and ‘Liew’ or ‘Lew’ in Hakka.

Famous people with the surname Liú include American actress and producer Lucy Liu, who starred as Alex Munday, an “angel” detective in the Charlie’s Angels film series and Hong Kong singer Andy Lau (Chinese name: Lau Tak-wah 刘德华).

5. Chen (陈)

Occupying fifth place is the surname Chen . This surname has its origin in the ancient kingdom Chen, which is located in Henan province today. Though this surname only places fifth place on the top 100 common surnames in Mainland China, it’s the most common surname in Taiwan and Singapore. has a radical fù “mound” but unfortunately, this radical doesn’t suggest anything related to the character .  Chen was used to refer to the kingdom Chen, but now it also bears the meaning of “old” or “stale”. 

is spelled ‘Chan’ in Cantonese, ‘Tan’ in Hokkien, and Teochew, “Chun” in Malaysia.

Famous people with the surname Chen include HongKong actor Jackie Chan (Chinese name: Chan Kong-sang 陈港生) and professional poker player Johnny Chan, who has won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets. 

Top 100 most common Chinese last names

Learning about common Chinese last names can be useful when reading text such as books, magazines, or even novels. It saves you lots of time to look up the meaning. And if you study or work in China, you’ll surely have Chinese friends and colleagues. In that case, you’ll have to remember their last names to address them appropriately. 

1.            王           Wáng

2.            李           Lǐ

3.            张           Zhāng

4.            刘           Liú

5.            陈           Chén

6.            杨           Yáng

7.            赵           Zhào

8.            黄           Huáng

9.            周           Zhōu

10.          吴           Wú

11.          徐           Xú

12.          孙           Sūn

13.          胡           Hú

14.          朱           Zhū

15.          高           Gāo

16.          林           Lín

17.          何           Hé

18.          郭           Guō

19.          马           Mǎ

20.          罗           Luó

21.          梁           Liáng

22.          宋           Sòng

23.          郑           Zhèng

24.          谢           Xiè

25.          韩           Hán

26.          唐           Táng

27.          冯           Féng

28.          于           Yú

29.          董           Dǒng

30.          萧           Xiāo

31.          程           Chéng

32.          曹           Cáo

33.          袁           Yuán

34.          邓           Dèng

35.          许           Xǔ

36.          傅           Fù

37.          沈           Shěn

38.          曾           Zēng

39.          彭           Péng

40.          吕           Lǚ

41.          苏           Sū

42.          卢           Lú

43.          蒋           Jiǎng

44.          蔡           Cài

45.          贾           Jiǎ

46.          丁           Dīng

47.          魏           Wèi

48.          薛           Xuē

49.          叶           Yè

50.          阎           Yán

51.          余           Yú

52.          潘           Pān

53.          杜           Dù

54.          戴           Dài

55.          夏           Xià

56.          钟           Zhōng

57.          汪           Wāng

58.          田           Tián

59.          任           Rén

60.          姜           Jiāng

61.          范           Fàn

62.          方           Fāng

63.          石           Shí

64.          姚           Yáo

65.          谭           Tán

66.          盛           Shèng

67.          邹           Zōu

68.          熊           Xióng

69.          金           Jīn

70.          陆           Lù

71.          郝           Hǎo

72.          孔           Kǒng

73.          白           Bái

74.          崔           Cuī

75.          康           Kāng

76.          毛           Máo

77.          邱           Qiū

78.          秦           Qín

79.          江           Jiāng

80.          史           Shǐ

81.          顾           Gù

82.          侯           Hóu

83.          邵           Shào

84.          孟           Mèng

85.          龙           Lóng

86.          万           Wàn

87.          段           Duàn

88.          章           Zhāng

89.          钱           Qián

90.          汤           Tāng

91.          尹           Yǐn

92.          黎           Lí

93.          易           Yì

94.          常           Cháng

95.          武           Wǔ

96.          乔           Qiáo

97.          贺           Hè

98.          赖           Lài

99.          龚           Gōng

100.        文           Wén

The bottom line

Though China is a big country in terms of population, the surnames in use are not so diverse. The U.S. with only one-fourth of China’s population, reports 6.3 million surnames. As a result, you can easily find many Chinese who share the same last names!

If you’re interested in Chinese culture, history, or language, find more posts like this on Pandanese. Pandanese is a Chinese learning platform that helps users learn Chinese easily by employing mnemonics and Spaced Repetition System (SRS). We encourage you to check out our Pandanese blog and read as much as you like about language and culture topics before starting your learning!

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