Xing Shi:Top 100 Chinese Surnames

Throughout rich Chinese history, there have been at least 23,813 surnames recorded. Out of these surnames, 5,662 surnames remain in use today, but out of these 5,000+ surnames, there are 100 very popular surnames used often, meaning that these 100 surnames make up 85.9% of the large 1.4billion Chinese population. In other words, 596.3 million Chinese people and 42.9% of the Chinese population actually share ten similar family names.

So, what are these top 100 Chinese Surnames?

According to a survey by the Ministry of Public Security of China, these are the top most popular surnames common with the Chinese.

First, we’ll take a look at the numbers from the population, specifically for the top 20 most popular surnames in China.

  1. Wáng (王)– there are 101.5 million people who go by the Wang surname, and this makes 7.25% of the population of Chinese people who go by the Wáng surname. Interestingly, the name Wáng is not just common in China but also in the rest of the world. The other thing you should know about the name Wáng is that it Chinese character – 王 means King. The three horizontal lines for this name represent the earth, the sky, and people, and they are connected by the vertical line, which indicates that all the elements under the name are ruled by the King. So, where did this family name come from? Well, the Wáng family name is said to have a royal origin. You should also know that the name is spelled and pronounced differently by the various dialect groups. The Mandarin speakers, for example, spell it as ‘Wang’ while the Hakka and Cantonese speakers spell it as a Wong, and the Hokkien Speakers spell it as Ong.
  2. Lǐ (李)- there are at least 100.9 million Chinese people that go by this surname. This surname was at some point the most popular surname in China, but it’s been eclipsed by Wáng. The 李 or Lǐ surname means plum, and it’s said to have originated from the plum tree, which was an important totem in ancient China. Lǐ was the Tang Dynasty’s Imperial surname. In Hokkien and Mandarin, it’s spelled Li, and in Hakka or Cantonese, the surname is spelled, Lei or Lee.  
  3. Zhāng (张) – at least 95.4 million people use this surname, meaning it’s the 3rd largest surname for the Chinese. The name is said to have originated from the Yellow Emperor’s grandson, who got the name after his invention of the bow and arrow. In other languages, the name Zhāng is Archer.
  4. Liú (刘)– There are 72.1 million Chinese people with the Liú surname. This is the 4th most popular Chinese surname, and it was the Han Dynasty’s king surname. Liu means an axe.
  5. Chén (陈) – 63.3 million Chinese people are named from the Chén surname. It’s a name that’s common with Chinese people descended from King Shun – the 2nd king in Chinese history.
  6. Yáng (杨) – this surname is shared by 46.2 million people. The name Yang means that the sun and people called Yang are said to have believed in the sun.
  7. Huáng (黄) – There are at least 33.7 million people sharing this surname. Huang is the name for the color Yellow in Chinese and also the name of the first king of the Chinese, albeit in ancient times.
  8. Zhào (赵)– 28.6 million Chinese people share this surname. This was the name of the king of the Qin dynasty, the first Chinese emperor.
  9. Wú (吴)– People with this popular surname are about 27.8million. Wu is a common name in China.
  10. Zhōu (周)– this surname is shared among at least 26.8 million people. This name has a rather long history in Chinese, but it’s a civilian name.
  11. Xú (徐) – 20.2 million Chinese people share the Xú surname. Xu means the law of astronomy in Chinese.
  12. Sūn (孙) – this is the other popular surname that is shared by at least 19.4 million Chinese people. This name was borrowed from the ancient book, the ShuoWen, a character in the book which goes by the name Sūn.
  13. Mǎ (马)– This is a surname shared by at least 19.1 million people. This is the name of a horse for the Chinese.
  14. Zhū (朱) – 18.1 million people use this surname. It’s a royal name for kings and has been from ancient times.
  15. Hú (胡) – 16.5 million people share this surname in and out of China. It doesn’t have a special meaning.
  16. Guō (郭)– there are at least a 15.8million Chinese people with this surname
  17. Hé (何) – 14.8 million people share this surname
  18. Lín (林)– this surname is shared by at least 14.2 million people
  19. Luó (罗)– there also 14.2 million people that share this surname
  20. Gāo (高)– This is the other popular Chinese surname shared by about 14.1 million people

These other names are listed below

  • Zhèng (郑)
  • Liáng (梁)
  • Xiè (谢)
  • Sòng (宋)
  • Táng (唐)
  • Xǔ (许)
  • Hán (韩)
  • Dèng (邓)
  • Féng (冯)
  • Cáo (曹)
  • Péng (彭)
  • Zēng (曾)
  • Xiāo (肖)
  • Tián (田)
  • Dǒng (董)
  • Pān (潘)
  • Yuán (袁)
  • Cài (蔡)
  • Jiǎng (蒋)
  • Yú (余)
  • Yú (于
  • Yè (叶)
  • Chéng (程)
  • Wèi (魏)
  • Sū (苏)
  • Lǚ (吕)
  • Dīng (丁)
  • Rèn (任)
  • Lú (卢)
  • Yáo (姚)
  • Shěn (沈)
  • Zhōng (钟)
  • Jiāng (姜)
  • Cuī (崔)
  • Tán (谭)
  • Lù (陆)
  • Fàn (范)
  • Wāng (汪)
  • Liào (廖)
  • Shí (石)
  • Jīn (金)
  • Wéi (韦)
  • Jiǎ (贾)
  • Xià (夏)
  • Fù (付)
  • Fāng (方)
  • Zōu (邹)
  • Xióng (熊)
  • Bái (白)
  • Mèng (孟)
  • Qín (秦)
  • Qiū (邱)
  • Hóu (侯)
  • Jiāng (江)
  • Yǐn (尹)
  • Xuē (薛)
  • Yán (闫)
  • Duàn (段)
  • Léi (雷)
  • Lóng (龙)
  • Lí (黎)
  • Shǐ (史)
  • Táo (陶)
  • Hè (贺)
  • Máo (毛)
  • Hǎo (郝)
  • Gù (顾)
  • Gōng (龚)
  • Shào (邵)
  • Wàn (万)
  • Qín (覃)
  • Wǔ (武)
  • Qián (钱)
  • Dài (戴)
  • Yán (严)
  • Mò (莫)
  • Kǒng (孔)
  • Xiàng (向)
  • Cháng (常)

Note that there are differences in the Chinese characters, even where the apparent English names appear the same.

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