How are Chinese baby names chosen?

Choosing a baby name for the baby girl or baby boy is one of a few most important decisions by parents. This is no difference for Chinese parents. Months before the baby is born, they look up dictionaries, talk to friends and even consult specialists in order to get a perfect baby name. How are Chinese baby names picked?

Infant Name vs. Formal Name

Many Chinese have two names: one infant name and one formal name. As is easy to guess from the wording, infant names are very informal and used among the family members. Chinese use infant names for different reasons and usually they don’t care much about how to get them. For example, Gou Sheng which means “abandoned by a dog” is a popular infant name for baby boys in countryside.

Chinese are much more serious about formal names which are used officially from birth to death. Among many factors in choosing a Chinese baby name (formal name), the date of birth, the genealogy, the baby name meaning, and the gender are considered most important.

Birthday & Chinese Astrology

Date of birth is more than just a date in China. Each date is special in terms of Chinese horoscope, Chinese zodiac and Chinese calendar. Ancient Chinese fortunetellers claimed that they could see a person’s personality and fate if given the birthday. Depending on when the baby is born, parents have to follow certain rules when choosing a baby girl name or baby boy name.

Baby Name & Genealogy

Though not as important as in ancient times, genealogy still plays an important role in many families in China. Last names are always maintained in Chinese family trees, while middle names are the same for members of the same generation. You may imagine that the genealogy is a baby name list of the full names of ancestors and current family members, and last and middle names of offspring (future babies).

Baby Name Meaning

In terms of baby name meaning, Chinese pay equal attention to popular baby names and unique baby names. On one hand, the name reflects the family background and the expectation of parents, so it tends to be unique; on the other hand, the name reflects the historical traits of the society at a particular time. Many Chinese born in the 1960s were named as Weiguo which means “to guard the country” or Xiangdong which means “to face the East”. The baby name meaning stamps the name with characteristics of a specific time: nationalism and cult of personality.

Baby Girl Name vs. Baby Boy Name

It is very easy to tell if a person is a male or female from the Chinese name. When a baby name is chosen, gender traits are included.

A Chinese baby girl name often contains Chinese symbols that are related to the following:

  • Beautiful and good looking
  • Elegance
  • Kindness
  • Jewelry
  • Flowers and plants
  • Birds
  • Cosmetics
  • Virtues
  • Gentle and Lovely

A Chinese baby boy name often contains Chinese symbols that are related to the following:

  • Power
  • Fortitude
  • Glory
  • Ethics
  • Loyalty
  • Ancestors
  • Knowledge
  • Luck
  • Career


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