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3 Methods to Choose Your Baby’s Chinese Name: An Ultimate Guide

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Singapore is primarily an English speaking country with English being the main language spoken in most families.

However, for the Chinese population, we each have our Chinese names and despite learning mandarin in school, choosing a Chinese name can prove to be a challenge.

In spite of the difficulty choosing a Chinese name, having a Chinese name is a must (in addition with an English name, should one choose to have it) in the Chinese culture.

For the Chinese, it is in fact more important to have a Chinese name than an English name, for there are some who go only by their Chinese name.

Even the Chinese who come from english speaking families have Chinese names attached to the back of their more commonly used English names.

This shows that the Chinese name holds a great significance to the Chinese community in Singapore regardless of their inclination towards a particular language.  

In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about a Chinese name, and also how you can pick a good and auspicious Chinese name for your baby. 

What makes up a good Chinese name? 

The modern full Chinese name is made up of a total of three characters, with one character being the surname and the other two characters being the name.

Surname, Name (1st character), Name (2nd character)

For example,

周杰倫 zhōu jié lún, where 周, zhōu is the surname and 杰倫, jié lún is the name. 

Meaning behind a Chinese Name

Each Chinese character expresses a specific meaning, and the combination of two Chinese characters gives rise to a diversity of meanings and allows for the creation of a more profound and elegant name.

For English names, there is only one word with a fixed meaning.

For Chinese names however, it can be selected to give a desired meaning by combining the appropriate Chinese characters. 

For example,

The name is 成师, chéng shī.

成, chéng – means to accomplish or to succeed

师, shī – means teacher

Thus, the name 成师 means to become a master. 

Another example,

The name is 宝妍, bǎo yán

宝, bǎo – means treasure.

妍, yán – means beautiful

Thus, the name 宝妍 means beautiful treasure. 

Choose a Chinese name that sounds good 

You should pick a Chinese name that is rhythmic and easy to pronounce.

This can be achieved by choosing characters with different vowels, consonants and level tones in order to vary them. 

For example, you should avoid Chinese names with the same tone. 

李利力, lǐ lì lì

Because all the characters in the above name start with ‘l’ and ends with an ‘i’, the name sounds flat and it will also sound odd. 

Choose a Chinese name with a good meaning

The meaning behind the name is also important in choosing a good Chinese name. All parents wish the very best for their baby, whether it be success in love, studies or business.

The Chinese characters are thus able to express these hopes and wishes.

For example, if the parents wish that their baby grow up to be filial and kind, they can name their baby, 孝仁, xiào rén.

孝, xiào – filial piety

仁, rén – benevolence

The name 孝仁 means filial and benevolent.

Therefore, you should first have in mind the characteristics you want your baby to possess before selecting the appropriate Chinese characters. 

Choose a Chinese name that is elegant

Each Chinese character could have multiple meanings. Ensure that the character you have selected does not have crude or shallow meanings.

Also, you can ensure an elegant name by going into the meaning of the characters. For example, let us consider these two names, 兰香 and 兰芳.

兰香, lán xiāng

兰芳, lán fang

兰 means orchid flower, while 香 and 芳 both means sweet-smelling.

So both names mean sweet smelling orchid flower.

However, 芳 also means good reputation. As such, the name 兰芳 also has the meaning that the person’s reputation will drift and spread like the sweet-smelling orchids.

Beware of negative meaning in the full Chinese name

When considering a Chinese name, you should always take into consideration the sound and meaning of the full name – surname + name.

You should put the surname and name together to ensure there is no negative meaning.

Let us take the example of the name 晶冰, jīng bīng.

晶, jīng – sparkling

冰, bīng – ice

The name 晶冰 means sparkling ice.

However, the surname is 沈, shěn.

When put together, the full name is 沈晶冰, shěn jīng bīng.

In this case, the full name also sounds like 神经病, shén jīng bìng, which means crazy or psycho. 

So do take note of such instances when selecting a Chinese name. 

How to choose your baby’s chinese name?

So this begs the question, how should you pick your baby’s Chinese name?

There are many methods to doing this, now, let’s discuss the most popular and common methods. 

Method 1: Choosing a name using the meaning behind each Chinese character theory

As we have shared earlier about what constitutes a good Chinese name, the combination of two Chinese characters gives rise to a diversity of meanings and allows for the creation of more a more profound and elegant name.

Using this theory, you can thus select a different quality (attribute) for each character of your baby’s name.

If you would like to use this theory, we have created a Chinese name generator for your use. 

Method 2: Choosing a name using Eight characters “Ba Zi” theory

The Ba Zi theory is a Chinese astrological concept that a person’s destiny or fate can be dictated by the two sexagenary cycle assigned to their birth year, month, day, and hour.

This information is in turn indicated by a pair of characters from the Heavenly Stems and Early Branches.

Together, they combine to form 60 combinations which will give you your 生辰八字, Ba Zi, or eight characters.

Each character corresponds to the five elements (metal, wood, fire, water and earth), and by studying them, you are able to find out which of the five elements are lacking or are too strong.

Thus, based on a person’s birth details, using the Ba Zi method can help you come up with a name that can even out the disparity of the five elements which leads to your baby’s harmonious and fulfilling life.

If you would like to name your baby using the Ba Zi theory, there are many Fengshui masters in Singapore who will name your baby for a fee, and the cost ranges from $80 – $200.  

Method 3: Choosing a name using the Number of Strokes theory

The Chinese believe that the number of strokes in a person’s name allows us to predict the fate and personality of that person.

This is known as the number of strokes theory.

This theory is usually used to “check” if there are any problems with a name that you have already decided on.

First let us determine the five groupings:

  1. 天格 (Tian Ge or Heavenly Character) – This refers to your surname. This foretells the fate that came with your birth.
  2. 人格 (Ren Ge or Personal Character) – This refers to your overall destiny or fate.
  3. 地格(Di Ge or Earthly Character) – This determines your immediate relations with people around you, which includes your colleagues, subordinates, spouse, children and other family members.
  4. 总格 (Zong Ge or Total Character) – This foretells your life after 35 years of age.
  5. 外格 (Wai Ge or External Character) – This refers to your relations with individuals at large within society as a whole. 

Here is how you can calculate the number of strokes in your Chinese name using this theory: 

  1. 天格 (Tian Ge or Heavenly Character) – Total number of strokes of your surname + 1.
  2. 人格 (Ren Ge or Personal Character) – Add the total number of strokes of the surname and the first character of the name.
  3. 地格 (Di Ge or Earthly Character) – Add the total number of strokes of the first and second character of your name.
  4. 总格 (Zong Ge or Total Character) – Add the total number of strokes of all three characters of your full name.
  5. 外格 (Wai Ge or External Character) – Take the total number of strokes in D, minus the total number of strokes in B, then +1. 

With the total number of strokes for the five different groupings, you can then check against the following table (see below) for the interpretation of each grouping.

Do note that you will have to compare all five groupings –  Heavenly Character, Personal Character, Earthly Character, Total Character and External Character.

Let us use the example of HK superstar, Andy Lau, 刘德华.

Credit: Asia One

The number of strokes are 6, 15, 6 respectively.

Using the name of HK superstar Andy Lau, 刘德华


Number of Strokes

Interpretation (found below)

天格 (Tian Ge or Heavenly Character)

7 (6+1)

Energetic, intelligent and decisive. Your sense of good judgment will help you in all business ventures. Good. 

人格 (Ren Ge or Personal Character)

21 (6+15)

The plum-blossom flourished through the Winter frost and was the first to bloom among the hundred flowers. The ability to endure hardship paves the way to success. Good. 

地格 (Di Ge or Earthly Character)

21 (15+6)

The plum-blossom flourished through the Winter frost and was the first to bloom among the hundred flowers. The ability to endure hardship paves the way to success. Good. 

总格 (Zong Ge or Total Character)

27 (6+15+6)

You win once, you lose once. Be cautious. Medium. 

外格 (Wai Ge or External Character)

7 (27-21+1)

Energetic, intelligent and decisive. Your sense of good judgment will help you in all business ventures. Good. 

Therefore, using the number of strokes theory, Andy Lau, 刘德华, has a good name.

No wonder he’s a superstar!

Meaning of your name using number of strokes theory

1 – Trustworthy and reliable. A virtuous man will be blessed. Good

2 – It takes hard work to fulfill one’s ambition. Success awaits only those with persistence and perseverance. Medium.

3 – All elements in the universe are in harmony. Fame and wealth come from all directions. Good.

4 – The sun is covered by the clouds. One is faced with obstacles and hardship. You need endurance and great effort to succeed. Bad.

5 – Ying and Yang are in balance and are in your favour. Family will be blessed. Good health conditions. But avoid any form of overindulgence. Good.

6 – One shall attain fame and riches. Success in all areas awaits the one who has strong will and determination. Good.

7 – Energetic, intelligent and decisive. Your sense of good judgment will help you in all business ventures. Good.

8 – Maximum effort required in your youth but you will reap the fruit of your labours at later age. Good.

9 – A man of many talents but the lack of opportunities prevents these talents from being exploited. With no benefactors and poor human relations, the road to success is blocked. Bad.

10 – The moon is covered with clouds and its radiance disappears. One works very hard but with no results. Bad.

11 – The flowers bloom, the plants sprout to life in spring. Stable and practical-minded, you have no cause for worry. Good. 

12 – One fights the battle alone. A hero on the outside, a broken man on the inside Bad.

13 – Your noble deeds from the past will be rewarded. With wisdom and skill, you will succeed. Good.

14 – Be patient and determined. One must wait for the rain to stop before the sun shines. Medium.

15 – Modesty and a sense of responsibility are your qualities. Destiny has arranged for your way ahead to be surrounded by benefactors. Good

16 – A leader of the masses. People respect your integrity. An ideal statesman. Fame and fortune abound. Good.

17 – Seize the day. Always listen to good advice. You will meet a benefactor. Good.

18 – Suited for business and blessed with success and prosperity. But be prudent in your decision-making. Good.

19 – Your success in youth resulted in arrogance and pride become the root of your failure in later life. Bad.

20 – Charged with high aspirations but dampened by failures. All efforts will be doomed. Bad.

21 – The plum-blossom flourished through the Winter frost and was the first to bloom among the hundred flowers. The ability to endure hardship paves the way to success. Good.

22 – The autumn leaves turn yellow and are swept away by the winds. One is gifted with many talents but is deprived of any opportunity to shine and excel. Bad.

23 – The morning sun rises and brightens the sky. Fame spreads in all directions and success is attained in all endeavours. Good.

24 – From rags to riches. With your wisdom and the use of strategies, you will achieve a bright future. Good.

25 – Heaven and earth are in harmony but you are short of good human relations. Cultivate virtues and you will be rewarded with good relations. Medium.

26 – A hero creates turbulence and makes drastic changes. He can either create massive good fortune or misfortune. Medium.

27 – You win once, you lose once. Be cautious. Medium.

28 – A fish out of water. Change your name or suffer for the rest of your life. Bad.

29 – The clouds swirl in the sky and the dragon ascends to heaven. One achieves success by using wisdom and strategies. Good.

30 – Success and failure are the realities of life. Medium.

31 – You are blessed with fame and good fortune. Be generous and your good fortune will be extended. Good.

32 – The dragon leaps from the sea and ascends to heaven with the aid of the clouds and wind. When the timing is right, and all conditions are in favour, success will be attained. Good.

33 – Being temperamental and emotional are the traits of your youth. Initiate change and life will be prosperous. Medium.

34 – Disasters and crisis dominate your life. Change your name to change your destiny. Bad.

35 – You have many talents but your lack of self-confidence and conservative attitude prevent you from developing your talents and excelling with them. Medium.

36 – You possess a sense of righteousness and readiness to help those in need. But your nobleness is exploited by others with ill-intentions. Bad.

37 – You have the blessing of heaven. Your benefactors will help you out of difficulties. Good.

38 – Gifted in the arts and will succeed in artistic pursuits. One can enjoy fame but may not be rich. Medium.

39 – Contented and hard-working. A man of patience who waits for the clouds to clear will see the full moon eventually. Good.

40 – Life is full of ups and downs and is ever-changing. Go with the flow, retreat when necessary and all will go well. Medium.

41 – You are blessed with the resources to achieve success. Cultivate talents and skills and expand your knowledge. With courage, you will be successful. Good.

42 – You lack focus in your occupations and in everything you do. Although you are versatile, you will encounter frequent setbacks. Work harder to polish your skills. Medium.

43 – A flower caught in the rain. Have faith in yourself and you will succeed. This interpretation is bad for females. Medium.

44 – You try very hard to achieve in life but have exhausted all strategies. Because you are always looking for instant results, you will never achieve much. Bad.

45 – The flowers bloom in springtime. There is no danger and you will overcome all obstacles. Good.

46 – The road to success is filled with obstacles. You must persevere. Bad.

47 – Work hard in your youth and by middle-age, you will succeed when you meet your benefactors. Good.

48 – A crane stands out amongst the roosters. You are blessed with fortune and great leadership. Good.

49 – Always a wanderer, your future is uncertain. You must always be cautious in all endeavours. Bad.

50 – A moment of success, a moment of failure. You must be prudent in everything you do. Medium.

51 – It finally rains after a long drought. Only time will change your fortune from bad to good, like a withered tree waiting for the next season before it blooms again. Medium.

52 – The sun comes out after the rain. All wishes are fulfilled. Good.

53 – Your luck changes constantly from good to bad, and vice versa. Medium.

54 – All efforts will not be rewarded. Change your name. Bad.

55 – You look well on the outside but your miseries are unknown to others. Cultivate virtues to alleviate your state. Medium.

56 – A good start but a bad finish is the cause of your failures. Bad.

57 – With the end of winter comes Spring, bringing good news. With determination, you are not afraid of difficulties. Medium.

58 – You achieve success in the later part of your life after the difficulties during youth. Medium.

59 – You are indecisive and you lack confidence. Try to change or all that you do will fail. Bad.

60 – Personal ambitions are difficult to fulfill. Bad.

61 – The crescent moon is covered by the clouds. Will encounter many crisis. Be cautious in all things you do. Bad.

62 – A man constantly seeking trouble. You cannot get along with your family or others. Best to change your name. Bad.

63 – Because of your good character, all roads lead to success. Good.

64 – You like the new and dislike the old. Your petty nature and poor health bring disasters. Bad.

65 – Being noble and honest are your traits. You are respected by others, and if you can seize the right opportunities, you will achieve success. Good.

66 – A long night filled with nightmares. Your lack of integrity and poor human relations bring little success. Bad.

67 – You are destined to be your own boss. If you are not tempted by small gains or greed, you will receive bigger fortunes. Good.

68 – Careful and meticulous in planning, you know when to seize opportunities. Hence you will be successful. Good.

69 – Full of turbulence and troubles, your luck has yet to arrive. Bad.

70 – Dangers and poor health dominate your life. Change your name. Bad.

71 – You face difficulties in the beginning but if you are able to persevere, success will eventually come to you. Medium.

72 – Like a mountain at the verge of collapse, you are surrounded by dangers. Even when you are enjoying yourself, do not ignore the warning signs. Bad.

73 – Your charitable nature with few regrets brings you an abundance of blessings. Good.

74 – Laziness and unproductiveness are your traits. Bad.

75 – You are impatient and want to make it to heaven with a single leap. Take one step at a time and you will succeed. Medium.

76 – Disasters abound. You may lose your life and fortunes. Change your name. Bad.

77 – You either enjoy success very early or very late in your life. Medium.

78 – A flower blooms but never bears fruit. You will encounter poverty in old age. Bad.

79 – The future is uncertain and not bright, like walking in total darkness. Bad.

80 – Discontentment dominates your life. You are always finding fault with your surroundings. Be contented or else whatever may be gained will be lost through your own foolishness. Medium.

81 – One reaches full circle. All wishes will be fulfilled and all goes well. Good.


Choosing a good Chinese name for your baby

In this article, we have shared all you need to know about choosing a Chinese name. We have also listed the most common ways of choosing a good Chinese name for your child.

For the Chinese in Singapore, having a Chinese name is especially important.

Use our Chinese name generator to choose a good name for your child. We recommend that you use our Chinese name generator and then “check” the name with the number of strokes theory.

It is the Chinese belief that your child’s destiny and future starts with a good name.

So enjoy the process of selecting a Chinese name for your baby and regardless of the method you choose, remember that nothing is more important than having a healthy and happy baby. 

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