Is there a gender neutral term for people who are first born in a family?

For example, if a mother, father, and older sibling are all the first born to their parents, is there a term that describes all of them?

A quick check translating "first born" to traditional Chinese using google shows 長女 and 長男, as well as 初生的 which I'm not clear about, but if I wanted to say that "other family members are all X's" and use the correct Chinese word for clarity and to avoid any ambiguity, is there a word or simple expression for this category of people within a family? Or even without being within one family?

I'm not sure if this should be asked separately or not, but if there happens to be a word or phrase for the only person in a family who is not first born, that would also be helpful.

  • This is my first question here, help with tagging appreciated.
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 8:14

3 Answers 3


Speaking from personal experience (as a 長孫 on my paternal side):

老大 would be the most common gender-neutral term used within the family. Very common.

長子 can refer to the one oldest child of brothers and sisters, but there is quite a lot of variation in use between families, and can refer to the "eldest son" or the "eldest child". To be clear, I'd often go with "長子長女" as a phrase.

A more neutral circumlocution would be 最大的 which is spans formal and informal, in-family and out-of-family use. It defaults to referring to age (not height / width!), but if you want to be specific, you can use 年紀最大的 with "age" included.

There isn't any two-syllable word for the youngest that my family uses, although 老小 and 老幺 I have now seen on searching the Internet. 最小的 is the usual gender-neutral way of expressing it.

  • yes, after searching around for a while (e.g. 1, 2) 老大 seems to be precisely the word I'm looking for. Thanks!
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 9:46

there're terms for the "first-born-son" only. traditionally, females are not treated equally in a family.

so, the answer below is not gender neutral.

"嫡長子", "嫡子" or "宗子" - "first-born-son" of wife (the official one, not concubines)




therefore, you might invent the term "嫡長女" as "first-born-daughter" :)

other male siblings in the family, including younger one of the same mother, or any male siblings of concubines, are called "庶子"


have fun :)

  • To clarify, 嫡子/庶子 has nothing to do with age. People might think that ancient Chinese men can have more than one wives but that is not true. Legally, a man can have only one 妻 (actual wife) and maybe multiple 妾(concubines). The man can have children with 妾, but generally, 妾 are considered as servents. The children of 妻 are called 嫡子, and children of 妾 are called 庶子. If a man have any children outside marriage they are also called 庶子. 嫡/庶 has nothing to do with age. 嫡长子 is the term for the firstborn son of 妻. legally, 嫡长子 is the one inherit the properties and the knighthood of the father.
    – River
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 15:15
  • I don't think it is a good idea to bring in the concept of 嫡/庶 when answering this question.
    – River
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 15:16
  • well, like it or not, it’s part of the culture. btw, it’s in the dictionary 😽 Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 14:19

You could just put: 最大的孩子 or just 大的(孩子). IE:

他们家有三个孩子, 大的都有16岁了





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