In many old Chinesekung fu or comedy movies, you may have noticed the strange names of the characters. The beautiful and graceful main actress is given a lowly name “Pig”, and the ugly sidekick of the actor is named “Spring Boy.” How come? Well, it was actually to balance their good and bad luck.
In ancient times, the infant mortality rate was quite high. One way parents thought to protect their children was to give them lowly names that would protect them from evil spirits, allowing them to reach their golden years.
Another way was to calculate the element of the child using his or her birth date. This then was matched against the five elements of earth, air, fire, water and wood. Then, depending on which element was lacking, a Chinese name was formed to fill this lacking element.
Chinese names are made up of two to three Chinese characters, and below is a list of the top 10 most auspicious Chinese characters used in names (including the top five for girls and top five for boys). They balance out negative energies, give good luck and represent the positive traits the parents wish their children to have.
Top 10: Zhen
A very precious baby
This means precious or to-be-treasured in English. If you’d like to express the specialness of your daughter, you can definitely give her this name. You can consult the services of an astrologer who can do a name feng-shui on your child, to be sure it matches her. Meanwhile, to give a stronger charge to this name, pairing Chinese characters with another is usually done. An example of name combination is Zhen Chun, which means “precious” and “spring”. Both characters give off the positive aura of freshness and vitality.
Top 9: De
A very honorable samurai
Chinese history is characterized by many stories of honor, virtue and pride. Servants would offer their lives for the emperors. A mother would do everything she can for her child, and Chinese people would sacrifice themselves for the country. To say that honor and virtue are important in Chinese culture is an understatement. It is actually one of the tenets of acceptable and peaceful living in the society. This character represents these values exactly—virtue and honor. With the influence too of Buddhist teachings of meaning and understanding, this name ranks among the most auspicious name characters. You can pair this with another character to have the name De Ming, which means “virtue” and “brightness or intelligence”, separately.
Top 8: Na
A graceful ballerina
Would you like to give your daughter good luck? Then, give her a good name. Well, this is the belief of people who count name strokes. This system is based on the principle of Yin and Yang. Odd number strokes are Yang, while even number strokes are Yin. Depending on the system or school being used, certain number of strokes mean good luck while some do not. This character has nine strokes and it will depend on the other characters to see if the whole name is auspicious. This one means “graceful girl”. You can combine it with another character to have the name Jin Na, which means “gold or precious” and “graceful girl”.
Top 7: Cai
A rich kid and his yacht
Nothing beats this character when it comes to prosperity, because it means exactly that and a whole lot more. Fortune, big fortune! This is definitely a good choice for a boy’s name. If you would like your son to be successful financially, take this and note it down. You can also pair this with the Chinese word Zhe, which means “knowledge”. The lucky combination would then be Zhe Cai.
Top 6: An
Safe in the arms of Mom
The parents’ choice of Chinese name for their daughters can be influenced by what is popular at that time, what is unique, the wishes of the parents, family background, as well as the condition of the society at that time. If the strongest influence will be the last one, then, this character is, for sure, the top name choice at war times. As this word means “safe”, An exudes femininity and peace. It is also easy to write and common among Chinese females. A name combination can be An Min. These words represent “safe” and “intelligence”.
Top 5: Jian
Is your child a crybaby? Is he naughty and never nice? Perhaps, the name you have given him affected his overall aura. This is what some Chinese people believe. In Chinese culture, the name says a lot about a person. This is why names need to be carefully chosen and analyzed. One way to know if a given name is auspicious or not is to use the Kua numbers. Here’s how to do it: Take the last two numbers of your birth year. Add these digits and add again to end up with a single digit. You must then subtract this from 10. The result actually depends whether male or female. This character has an overall positive charge. Jian means “healthy”. When you adopt this for your son, he can get the strong aura of health and confidence. Some people pair this with Xien, which means “ability or talent”. Now, that’s a superpower!
Top 4: Mei
A beautiful chinese girl
Oh, this is one of the most well-loved Chinese female names. You’re not only lucky, you’re beautiful as well. This character signifies “beauty”. Some use other characters like flower or natural elements to symbolize beauty. However, this word is the real essence, as it is “beauty” itself. The traditional Chinese writing involves many lines that may confuse non-Chinese-writing people. Instead, you can use the simplified Chinese version. Combine this word with another character Yong, to form Yong Mei. This name signify an eternal beauty.
Top 3: Cheng
A successful businesswoman
Surely, you want your child to succeed. Though you may think that giving him the name “success” is absurd, why not try it? You’ll lose nothing; instead, you may give him good luck, and fame because of his unique name. In a home of many boys, the parents would usually assign a particular virtue or trait they want their sons to have. For example, “success” can be given to the eldest son, “handsome” to the second, and “happiness” to the third, and so on. This is also the same with daughters. The full term for success, or “cheng gong” is used, at times, as the name of a person.
Top 2: Ai
A couple so much in love
If you are currently broken-hearted or having problems with your relationships, then one influence may perhaps be your name. You may perhaps want to change your name to this character, which means “love”. This character has also become famous not only as a name, but also as a body tattoo sign and t-shirt print. There are also different words combinations for different kinds of love. Examples are motherly love, true love, fatherly love, friend’s love, and more. You can also pair this word with various characters as this can easily complement any positive word. It can also signify love for a certain object. An example is Ai P’ing. P’ing stands for “peace”, and this name reflects the parents’ wish for their child to be peace-loving. Whether this will be true or not, it depends on the child.
Top 1: Wu
A strong martial artist
Now you have Bruce Lee for a son. It’ll be a great pride for you if your son possesses the manly characteristics of strength, brevity, and daringness. The whole term actually of Wu Gong means martial arts, which is the glory of most men who love to combat and emerge as the supreme winner! This also encourages courage in men who have this name. Some men have animal names to have this strong effect too. Examples are tiger and horse. For this character, you can affix another Chinese word, Long, to achieve a bold and daring combination.
Chinese people, since the early times, give much importance and significance to what your name means. Early Chinese people believed that a person’s name contains his or her fate. Fate is something unseen and intangible. This can bring either good luck or bad luck. Parents then used the methods such as elements balancing, stroke counting and more to give their children a head start.
Characters are usually combined to form a phrase. This creates a stronger and more solid name aura or influence. If you are a conservative Chinese who believes in the influence of names, you can ask for the guidance of an expert astrologer to balance your child’s elements. On the other hand, if you are a non-Chinese who simply wants to have a Chinese name for an experience of the culture, choosing and combining some of the characters above is a good idea. Enjoy!
(If you can’t get enough of the Chinese and all things oriental, the Top Ten Funniest Chinese Movies Translated to English should tickle your funny bone!)