My young niece, whose birthday is in principle coming up at the end of the month (Feb 29), is named 润润. When I look it up in Google Translate, it returns “wet”. Other dictionaries show the same thing, even a guide that is specific to names.

Does this have some other meaning such as an idiom or context-specific usage, or is it a pretty sound, or what?

Also, how is it properly pronounced? I hear a short vowel sometimes like the word “in”, but also seems to sound very close to “run” more often. Given that English is tone deaf, what at least is the best American English sound to use?

(They are in Kunming, Yunan. I don't know the differences between college Mandarin and local Yunaneese, but that's another question.)

  • 3
    润rùn 闰年 rùn nián leap year
    – user6065
    Feb 19, 2015 at 11:18
  • 润 has other meanings, including: smooth, moist, but also benefit, profit. Google Translate is not a dictionary, it's a premature machine translation app. The preferred pronunciation depends on where your niece's family comes from (most notably the difference between Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese).
    – imrek
    Feb 19, 2015 at 15:11
  • What about that name guide? It doesn't explain why it is common in given names, but just gives the (same) meanings.
    – JDługosz
    Feb 19, 2015 at 17:23
  • 1
    S.Rhee means that the name might be a pun between the character used 润 and the character for leap [year] 闰. Pronunciation is more similar to the English "ruin" than "run"
    – Colin
    Feb 19, 2015 at 19:00
  • If rùn then you pronounce like ren as in rend except no d sound
    – Huangism
    Feb 19, 2015 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


Probably it is because it was a leap year (闰年). 闰 and 润 have same pronunciation, which is similar to English word 'ruin' (even the tone is the same) but shorter.

闰 means intercalation and 润 means moist, smooth literally and nurturing, nourishing/nourished prosperity and affluence figuratively. 润 is often a good word and commonly used in people and organization names.

  • have preceding comments not already said the same thing?
    – user6065
    Feb 20, 2015 at 9:59

Yeah, Reechen is right, more like 'ru in' said quickly.

Ask a Chinese to say 'under' and they will often say 'wunder', because 'u' is 'wu' when followed by a consonant in Pinyin, which is Chinese sounds written with Roman letters. The combination of phonemes 'g wu n' often seems to produce a sound like 'g win' or 'gwu in' in some speakers. It is pretty hard for anyone to say 'rw' or 'r wu n' so I suppose that is why it comes out a bit like 'rin' sometimes.

Ask a Chinese to say 'wood' and their lips will get tangled and produce a sound like 'ud'. I like doing that with my girlfriend! 'What's it made of?' Until she hits me of course.

滚 is written in Pinyin 'gun' but is pronounced 'gwun'. It means something like PFO.

利润 (lirun) means profits. 润 can also mean embellish, so together maybe 润润 is 'a profitable embellishment for our lives'

You can't read too much into names though. I know a girl called 杨一, so her first name as we see it is '一‘ = ’yi' = 1。'Your the one for me.'!

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