According to the latest research of the Ministry of Public Security of China, there are totally 6150 surnames (last names) in use in China nowadays.
China has nearly 1.4 billion people live in the country and the top 100 Chinese surnames cover around 85% of the total population.
Each of the top 2 surnames which are Li and Wang even has more than 100 million population.
If you get familiar with the top 100 Chinese last names, it will be easier for you to recognize which phrases are the names of people and read articles about Chinese more fluently.
The Chinese name usually consists of a surname and a given name. Surname is the same as the family name, which is one character, and the following one or two characters are usually the given name.
Note: In the traditional way, the Chinese surname is ahead of the given name. For example, Li Mei is a typical Chinese name, and Li (李) is the surname and Mei is the given name.
However, if a Chinese name is written in English, sometimes the surname and the given name will change the order to be similar to the foreign names.
Here is the list of top 100 common Chinese last names
1. Wang (王)
Wang is the most common Chinese surname in China, which represents around 1,015 million people in the research of 2019. Wang’s meaning is the king of a country.
2. Li (李)
Li is the second common Chinese last name, which represents around 1,009 million people. Li used to be the name of the king in the Tang dynasty.
3. Zhang (张)
Zhang is the quantifier of the bow and arrow. The people who are good at bow and arrow name themself Zhang.
4. Liu (刘)
Liu is the king’s surname in the Han dynasty. The ancient meaning of Liu is an axe.
5. Chen (陈)
The people whose surname is Chen is the descendant of the king Shun, who is the second king of Chinese history.
6. Yang (杨)
Yang is the meaning of the sun. so the ancient people who believe in the sun name themselves Yang.
7. Huang (黄)
Huang is the name of the color yellow in China, it is also the surname of the Chinese first king in ancient times.
8. Zhao (赵)
Zhao is the name of the king in the Qing dynasty. It is the name of the first emperor in Chinese history.
9. Wu (吴)
Wu is a common name in China and represents 278 million people in China.
10. Zhou (周)
Zhou has a long history in Chinese history, it is a civilian name.
11. Xu (徐)
Xu is the meaning of the law of astronomy.
12. Sun (孙)
Sun comes from an ancient book ShuoWen in China. It is a character in that book.
13. Ma (马)
Ma is the name of the horse in China.
14. Zhu (朱)
Zhu is the royal name of a king in ancient times.
15. Hu (胡)
Hu is a civilian name in China, which has no special meaning.
16. Guo (郭)
Guo is the common surname in Sichuan province, which represents 15.8 million people.
17. He (何)
He is a common surname in China.
18. Lin (林)
Lin is the meaning of forest, which represents 14.2 million people in China.
19. Gao (高)
Gao is the meaning of height, which represents 14.1 million people in China.
20. Luo (罗)
Luo comes from the Henan province in China.
21. Zhen (郑)
Zhen is a royal name in China.
22. Liang (梁)
Liang is the meaning of the bridge of the river in ancient China.
23. Xie (谢)
Xie is the meaning of “Thank you”.
24. Song (宋)
Song is the name of a dynasty, which is the Song dynasty.
25. Tang (唐)
Tang is the name of a dynasty, which is the Tang dynasty.
26. Xu (许)
Xu is the meaning of axe in ancient China.
27. Deng (邓)
Deng is a country name in ancient China.
28. Han (韩)
Han is a common name of people in minority ethnic groups.
29. Feng (冯)
Feng means the noise of a fast-moving horse.
30. Cao (曹)
Cao is a common name in China.
Below are the 31 ~ 100 surnames in China, which actually don’t have too many meanings. They are all just common names for normal people.
Here they are:
31. Peng (彭)
Peng’s surname is ranked 31th in “Hundred Family Surnames”. Nowadays, Peng surnames are widely distributed, especially in Hunan, Sichuan, Hubei and other provinces, as well as in Taiwan. In addition to Taiwan, the Peng surname of the above three provinces accounts for about 49% of the population of the Han nationality Peng surname in the country. The Peng surname is the 39th most popular surname in China today, accounting for about 0.49% of the Han population. In Taiwan, it is the 35th largest surname.
32. Zeng (曾)
The Zeng surname is a traditional Han surname, which originally originated in the northwestern area of Lanling County (Cangshan County) in Linyi City, Shandong Province. Xia Wang Shaokang gave his younger son Qu Lie a fief as the kingdom of Viscount, which was called the Kingdom of Juanzi. After the country was destroyed, the Prince Wu of the country went out to the neighboring Lu country, using the original country name “鄫” as the surname, but the yibian (阝) was removed, indicating that he left the old city and did not forget his ancestors, called “Zeng”.
33. Xiao (肖)
Xiao surname, Chinese surname. After the implementation of the Second Simplified Chinese Characters in the 1970s, all the meanings of the entire character “Xiao”(萧) were merged into “Xiao”(肖) (not only the last name). So all Xiao surnames were written as Xiao(肖) surnames, but after the official abolition of the second simplified characters, due to the relevant regulations of the household registration management department, it was very difficult to change the surnames, so many people did not change back to Xiao surnames.
34. Tian (田)
The Tian family comes from the Gui family, and the surnames Chen and Hu come from the same line. After the demise of Chen Guo (located in Huaiyang County, Zhoukou City, Henan Province), Chen Wan, a descendant of Chen Hugong, fled to Qi State and later named Tian as his clan. The ancestor of the surname was Chen Wan, a clan of Chen Guogong (a native of Huaiyang County, Zhoukou City, Henan Province)
35. Dong (董)
The Dong surname, one of the Chinese surnames, is an ancient surname. The origin of the Dong surname can be traced back to Emperor Zhuanxu of Gaoyang, a descendant of the Yellow Emperor. It is said that Zhuan Xu has a sub-name, and the clan lives in the Ruhe area in southeast Henan. Lao Tong, the second son of Lao Tong, Li and Wu Hui successively served as Zhu Rong in the Gaoxin era. Lu Zhong, the son of Wu Hui, had six sons, who later developed into six big tribes. The second son of Lu Zhong Huilian, also named Shenhu, had the surname Dong. The son of Huilian Lian Shuan, and the son of Lian Shuan raised the dragon for Emperor Shun. Emperor Shun named Bian Shuan’s son Yu Dong, called Dong’s father, and called the Polong clan.
36. Pan (潘)
The Pan surname is one of the Chinese surnames, ranking 36th among the Chinese surnames today,  accounting for 0.48% of the total population of the country. The Pan surname clan also lives in the Korean Peninsula and Vietnam.
37. Yuan (袁)
The surname Yuan, one of the Chinese surnames, is a multi-ethnic and multi-source surname. After Yu Shun, the ancient emperor, the ancestor was Yuan Taotu.
38. Cai (蔡)
The Cai surname, one of the Chinese surnames, is a typical multi-ethnic, multi-sourced surname, mainly derived from the Ji surname, the Xi surname and the minority surnames. In the Western Zhou Dynasty, Cai Zhong was the ancestor of the Cai family name.
The surname Cai ranked 155th in the Song version of “Hundred Family Surnames”. As of 2013, the total population of the contemporary surname Cai reached 5.52 million, accounting for about 0.46% of the total population of the country, and the total population ranked 44th among Chinese surnames. The distribution of the surname Cai in the country is mainly concentrated in the three provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu. The country has formed a region with a high percentage of the surname Cai in the southeast coastal area.
39. Jiang (蒋)
Jiang’s surname is one of the hundreds of surnames in China. According to the records in the “Yuanhe Surname Compilation”, the Jiang family originated from the Ji surname, came from the Zhou royal family, after Zhou Gongdan’s third son Jiang Boring, after the country’s name Jiang Guo (now Huaibin, Henan Province) County) is the clan.
Jiang is an ancient, multi-ethnic, and multi-origin surname. During the Song Dynasty, the Jiang surname was about 260,000 people, accounting for about 0.34% of the national population, ranking 61st. Jiangsu is the largest province surnamed Jiang, accounting for 22.6% of the total population of Jiang surname in the country. During the Ming Dynasty, Jiang was surnamed approximately 490,000, accounting for about 0.53% of the national population, ranking forty-third. Jiangsu is still the largest province surnamed Jiang, accounting for about 23.2% of the total population of Jiang surname. According to the data of “Three Hundred Surnames in China (Part 1)” in 2006, the contemporary Jiang surname has a population of nearly 5.4 million, making it the 45th largest surname in the country, accounting for approximately 0.43% of the national population. The distribution in the country is mainly concentrated in the three provinces of Sichuan, Hunan and Jiangsu, accounting for about 42% of the total population of Jiang. Secondly, they are distributed in Guangxi, Zhejiang, Anhui, Chongqing and Guizhou provinces and cities, accounting for about 31% of the total population of Jiang. Sichuan is home to 17% of the total population of Jiang, making it the largest province in Jiang. The country has formed a gathering area of Jiang surname centered on Sichuan, Chongqing, Hunan, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
40. Yu (余)
The surname Yu, one of the hundred surnames in China, mainly originated from the surname Ji, who was after Yu Yu in the Qin State during the Spring and Autumn Period. Ranked 51st among the 100 family surnames in the Song version (90th in the Republican version). According to the 6th national census in 2010, the population of the remaining surnames in Mainland China is about 6.5 million (statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics) , Accounting for about 0.52% of China’s total population, ranking 41st that year (ranked 40th in the latest demographic data of the Ministry of Public Security in 2019). The population distribution is mainly in Hubei, Hunan, Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and other southern provinces. Due to the difference in pronunciation in ancient times, there are many differences in the origins of the remaining characters. The birthplace of the surname Yu originated in Fengxiang, Shaanxi. The ancestor of the surname is Ji Yu.
41. Yu (于)
42. Du (杜)
43. Ye (叶)
44. Cheng (程)
45. Wei (魏)
46. Su (苏)
47. Lv (吕)
48. Ding (丁)
49. Ren (任)
50. Lu (卢)
51. Yao (姚)
52. Shen (沈)
53. Zhong (钟)
54. Jiang (姜)
55. Cui (崔)
56. Tan (谭)
57. Lu (陆)
58. Wang (汪)
59. Fan (范)
60. Liao (廖)
61. Shi (石)
62. Jin (金)
63. Wei (韦)
64. Jia (贾)
65. Xia (夏)
66. Fu (付)
67. Fang (方)
68. Zhou (邹)
69. Xiong (熊)
70. Bai (白)
71. Tan (孟)
72. Qin (秦)
73. Qiu (邱)
74. Hou (侯)
75. Jiang (江)
76. Yin (尹)
77. Xue (薛)
78. Yan (闫)
79. Lei (雷)
80. Long (龙)
81. Li (黎)
82. Shi (史)
83. Tao (陶)
84. He (贺)
85. Mao (毛)
86. Duan (段)
87. Hao (郝)
88. Gu (顾)
89. Gong (龚)
90. Shao (邵)
91. Qin (覃)
92. Wu (武)
93. Qian (钱)
94. Dai (戴)
95. Yan (严)
96. Mo (莫)
97. Kong (孔)
98. Xiang (向)
99. Chang (常)
100. Tang (汤)
Have you found your Chinese friend’s name on the above list?
Tell them their surname’s meaning and I’m pretty sure they will be amazed by you!