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Encyclopedia > Chinese courtesy name
Cha can also refer to a Latin American dance, also called the Cha-cha-cha.

A Chinese courtesy name, sometimes also known as a style name, was a pseudonym that was used in place of a given name by educated Chinese up until the 20th century. These kind of names are no longer in fashion today. There were two common forms of courtesy name, the zi and the hao.


The zi (Chinese: 字; characters) and was usually based on the meaning of the ming (given name). The zi (or hao) rather than the ming was used by adults to refer to each other or in writing. The zi did not include the family name and was not used together with the ming.

The relation between the zi and the given name is evident in the case of Mao Zedong (毛澤東, 毛泽东), whose zi was Runzhi (潤之, 润之). One character from each of both Mao's given name and his zi relate to water (the common radical 澤, 氵 signifies "water") and beneficence: ze (澤, 泽) of the given name means "beneficence" and "marsh", and run (潤, 润) of the zi means "benefit" and "moisten".

Prior to the 20th century, Koreans and Japanese also used zi. In Korean, zi is translated as cha (자), and in Japanese, as azana or ji.

Zi of famous people:

  • Confucius
    • Family name: Kong
    • Given name: Qiu
    • Zi: Zhongni
  • Li Po
    • Family name: Li
    • Given name: Bai
    • Zi: Taibai
  • Sun Yat-sen
    • Family name: Sun
    • Given name: Wen
    • Zi: Zaizhi
  • Mao Zedong
    • Family name: Mao
    • Given name: Zedong
    • Zi: Runzhi


The hao (Traditional Chinese: 號; Simplified Chinese: 号; pinyin: ho) was an alternative courtesy name to the zi. It was most commonly three or four characters long, and perhaps first became popular due to people having the same names. The hao was usually self-selected and it was possible to have more than one. It had no connection with the ming or the zi, but was often a very personal, sometimes whimsical choice perhaps embodying an allusion or containing a rare character, as might befit an educated literatus. The hao was often used in the title of a writer's collected works.

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Chinese Names - About Chinese Name, Family Name, Given Name (1065 words)
The Chinese name is made up of a family name (姓), which is always placed first, followed by a generation name and personal name as part of the given name (名).
Chinese married women usually retain their maiden name as their family name, rather than adopt the name of their husband, and children usually inherit the father's family name.
Among Chinese Americans, it is common practice to be referred to primarily by the Western name and to use the Chinese given name as a middle name.
  More results at FactBites »



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