Find Your Surname

The surnames listed on this site were selected because there is a surname character that represents the actual Chinese family name. Since spoken Chinese is a tonal language (see FAQ), different family names that have the same or nearly similar pronunciation will have the same spelling, such as Li, which represents six different family names.

At the same time, the same Chinese American family name can be spelled in different ways, because the spelling for various surnames is based on language (e.g., Mandarin vs. Cantonese vs. Fukien) and dialect pronunciation. In addition, due to the evolution of Chinese American surnames over time, the spelling for a Chinese American surname may not represent an actual Chinese family name. Because of these particular features of Chinese American surnames, three separate lists of Chinese American surnames were compiled for this website, to help the non-­Chinese speaker better understand the underlying reasons behind the spelling of Chinese family names and the evolution of new surnames. The lists are:

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