I know it’s often used in old script and such, but there aren’t many other uses. I was always told that my Chinese name meant light/beautiful girl, but I haven’t found anything pointing to that specific definition.

I kind of get it with the radicals especially in 姜, but I don’t know much about 伊 or even Chinese culture. For all I know it’s like “John” or “Emma” and has a forgotten meaning, or none at all.

I’ve just started learning Mandarin, so I thought getting to know my name, 姜伊, would be cool :)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Jul 17, 2020 at 0:27
  • You'd be surprised how many old pronouns are still used today. Just as how lawyers like to use obfuscated/old words in law terms, I heard that some lawyers in Hong Kong like to do this as much, using 伊, 渠 and all the other obscure pronouns to sound smart and formal. Aug 1, 2020 at 10:08

4 Answers 4


伊 was used as 3rd person reference in ancient written Chinese.

In the beginning, it is equivalent to 他. But later on when Western books are translated into Chinese, sometimes "he" and "she" are confusing. The translator 郭赞生 suggested in his translation of a grammar book《文法初阶》that "he" should be translated as 他 and "she" translated as 伊. This is also guidance for original writings. The most famous literature that adopted this idea is from 鲁迅.

But later on, 刘半农(some say 钱玄同) introduced the character 她 which is used now in modern Chinese. The advantage of 她 over 伊 is that Chinese spoken language do not have a different pronunciation for different genders, so it is better to have the same pronunciation for all three 他 / 她 / 它, even though they are written down as different characters.

As a result, even though 伊 is not used now, it is still female related.

Reference: http://news.sina.com.cn/o/2005-07-26/04596526559s.shtml?from=wap

  • 2
    I'm sorry but your reference is absolutely incorrect. 她 is not a new character invented by 劉半農. 她 is an old character meaning 姐 and has the same pronunciation as 姐. And here, 姐doesn't mean sister. It means mother. In short, 她=姐=母. See classic-blog.udn.com/junk200/2506345
    – joehua
    Jul 15, 2020 at 5:39
  • @joehua Thanks, I changed "invent" to "introduce". I would also try to look for more reliable resources later.
    – River
    Jul 15, 2020 at 14:07

Generally, "伊" means he/she.

There is such an ancient poem "所谓伊人,在水一方", which means "My sweetheart, she is far away". In this sentence, "伊人" means "that lady". It is often used to represent the lady you admire or love.


In Taiwan, according to dictionary owned by Ministry of Education.



(Third person pronoun same as 彼, 他(him).)


(Second person pronoun same as 你(you).)


(Use to denote affirmation same as 是.)


(Words used to begin talking, no meaning.)


(助詞 of Classic Mandarin used to express just(there was not much time passed only a little time passed.))




there are some useful meanings of it:

  1. means her/him.(usually describe as female)

伊:the person mentioned above.

  1. means something far from us.

伊人: my sweetheart.

  1. means somebody that you're talking with.

伊: you.

  1. surname

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