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I am currently reading about the reign of 漢靈帝。 He appears a horrible ruler indeed. Yet Wikipedia states:

Emperor Ling died in 189 at the age of 34, after reigning for 21 years. After his death the power fell into the hands of Dong Zhuo, who despised him. Emperor Ling was one of the rare examples of history in which an emperor whose throne was inherited by a son received a highly derogatory (but accurate) posthumous name.

Is there indeed such a bad meaning of 靈? Or was there? I know 靈 to mean "clever " or "effective " when it is an adjective!

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for 諡號 (posthumous name), they're fixed, have special implications. treat the character used in posthumous name as a "code", you need to decipher it's meaning by looking up 諡法解.

this wiki page listed all 183

or, if you can read literary chinese, the internet archive has the "bible of posthumous name": 明諡紀彙編

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