Chinese names

In Chinese culture, people list their surname first, then their given name. Most people have a two-character given name. For instance, Mao Zedong, Mao is the surname and Zedong is the given name.

In ancient China, it was quiet common for a person to have several types of names throughout his lifetime. Reading through various gapou (jiapu) 家譜 can get confusing because one person can be refered to by several different names.

meng (ming) 名 - a personal name

zi (zi) 字 - name taken at marriage or coming of age (when there was a "capping" ceremony to show that the man had come of age)

hou (hao) 號 - 1) a nickname given by oneself or by others. 2) a fancy name males often give themselves to signify their academic progress or meaningful contribution to the society.

wai (hui) 諱 - name of a deceased elder member of the family

bit zi (bie zi) 別字 - "distinguishing appellation" given by friends to each other

To learn more about Chinese names visit Chinese Personal Names.