My middle name that everyone has always called me by, is Wesley. Since my parents said I was named for that English preacher, I looked up how he is normally called in Chinese. But a Chinese friend (who I am sure is familiar with John Wesley), suggested I use instead 伟思礼.

My question is, would 伟思礼 be considered a courtesy name and if not, what should it be called in English and 普通话? (Spanish, if you happen to know)

Should it just be called “my Chinese name”?

  • Chinese called that name as 中间名, or 教名.
    – sfy
    Jan 19, 2018 at 14:03

3 Answers 3


I would say naming your child after a relative, or someone important to you, is not a Chinese concept. In the olden days, if your name happened to be the same as, say, the emperor's name, you would be forced to change it. Perhaps your friend was trying to help you avoid the commonly accepted translation of Wesley's name 衛斯理 /Wei4 si1 li3/? One problem I can think of using 衛斯理 would be that people might think you are a descendent of the Wesley family, and you will need to explain every time you introduce yourself in Chinese.

To answer your question about whether your Chinese name is a courtesy name: No, I don't think so. If I were you, I would simply call this "my Chinese name", and depending on the situation, if you wish, go deeper and explain the origin of your name.

And by the way, 伟思礼 is a lovely name.

  • Thanks. I kind of like the name, though when I look at the meaning, it seems a bit pretentious. :-)
    – 伟思礼
    Jan 19, 2018 at 16:07
  • @伟思礼 please upvote also - seeing as you found it helpful.
    – Mou某
    Jan 19, 2018 at 16:34
  • 1
    @伟思礼 I am not sure I'd call it pretentious. Sounds rather cultured to me. Your friend did a good job, IMO.
    – monalisa
    Jan 19, 2018 at 21:49
  • She said “same pronunciation but better meaning. Great (man) with deep thought and respects for courtesy, ceremony”. which does sound pretentious to me.
    – 伟思礼
    Jan 20, 2018 at 0:00

john wesley is normally translated as 約翰 (john) 衛斯理 (wesley). nowadays, the methodist church in hong kong is called 循道衛理會.

imo, "偉思禮" is just transcribe phonetically the sound of the name "wesley" to chinese. it's not a courtesy name.

here's an example of name (名), courtesy name (字) & art name (號) of "non-chinese":

the german jesuit Johann Adam Schall von Bell (1592-1666), in chinese

his name (名) was "湯若望", which was transcribe from "johann adam"

his courtesy name (字) was "道未", which was derived from the verse "望道而未見之" in the book 孟子.

the rationale is at that time, chinese people thought that their kingdom is perfect, all foreigners are barbarian, so when johann adam arrived, they thought that he's a monk seeking for tao (望道), but he's not yet learnt (而未見之). that's why they assign "道未" as his courtesy name (字).

"道未" is to declare "seeking for tao, but not yet finished", it had no connection with the name (名).

further, he had an art name (號) as "通玄法師", which is not mentioned in the wiki.

the art name (號) "通玄法師" is assigned by the emperor, cause his calendar was better than the chinese one.

have fun :)


  • That’s quite interesting, but it doesn’t answer the question.
    – 伟思礼
    Jan 19, 2018 at 13:10

Actually,伟 is not commen in the first name. I guess 魏 is a pretty first name.Anyway 伟思礼 is also a good name. As for courtesy name, in ancient China, people get thier courtesy name from their parents (most father), in thier coming-of-age ceremonies.Most of the courtesy name are explainations to their names, for you, I get a saying, "不学礼,无以立".So I think you can use 立身as your courtesy name. If I get your question.

  • Well, I kind of like starting with "wei" because it sounds like a common family name.
    – 伟思礼
    Jan 20, 2018 at 15:06
  • Both 魏 and 伟 arw pronounced "wei".
    – user18942
    Jan 20, 2018 at 15:54
  • Or perhaps 韋, which is closer to what you have right now. Just drop the 人 radical. Pronunciation is also /wei3/.
    – monalisa
    Jan 21, 2018 at 6:06
  • Yeah,韦 is commen in translation of English name.
    – user18942
    Jan 21, 2018 at 6:10

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