I'm an American writing a novel in English and I have a Chinese character I want to give a real Chinese name. I'd like his name to mean something along the lines of "will," "purpose," "ambition," intelligence," or "achievement." I've found the names "Da" and "Zhi," which I like (maybe together--Da Zhi?), but I want to make sure that it's a real name and that the meanings are appropriate and accurate.

  • Some people has 志远 for their name,which stands for 志向远大(having a long/big ambition).
    – dan
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 4:20

3 Answers 3


Zhi Da (Zhì dà) 志大 = great ambition/ ambition is great

Meanwhile, 大志 is a common noun for 'great ambition'. We often say, someone 有大志 (have big ambition) or 沒大志 (don't have big ambition)

志大 sounds like a first name. You can add any common Chinese family name to make up the character's full name, for example, "吳志大". The character '吳' sounds exactly the same as '吾'(I). So, "吳志大" would sound like 'My ambition is great' in Chinese

Other common names that have a similar meaning not mentioned in other answers:

志豪 - Zhihao (heroic ambition)

志強 - Zhiqiang (strong will/ ambition)

志豪 and 志強 in Chinese are as common as 'John' and 'Michael' in English

  • Thank you! This is exactly the feedback I was looking for. When writing the name in English, is it better to include the accents to specify? I hope to include the Chinese characters in the text as well for accurate reference.
    – Luke C.
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 2:19
  • @LukeC. /zhì dà / is the pinyin of 志大 in Mandarin, not an accent. You only need to write 'Zhi Da' for '志大'; 'Wu' for '吳' . And Chinese put family name before the first name, so "吳志大" in English would ne "Wu Zhi Da"
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 2:23
  • Thank you again!
    – Luke C.
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 2:23
  • @LukeC. One drawback for the name 志大 is, there is a common Chinese expression '志大才疏' (have great ambition but lack talent). I wouldn't be surprised if someone named 志大 be nicknamed '才疏' (lack talent)
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 2:32
  • That's funny! Thanks for the heads up.
    – Luke C.
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 2:33

the character 志 (u+5fd7) roughly means "purpose, will, determination, aspiration, ideal; ambition; scope; record; annal; mark, sign", and it's a common name, maybe too common.

my first suggestion is : "鴻鵠"

that most people would understand the pun --> 志 ( from the idiom "燕雀安知鴻鵠志")


2nd & 3rd are: "鴻志" or "宏志", in which "鴻" or "宏" means "great, grand"

about the romanisation of these names, what's the background of the character? you may choose between cantonese, hokkien, or mandarin scheme.

edited, in lieu of long comment.

to be from Guangzhou/the Guandong province

depends on his age, roughly, born before 1949, wade-giles style. aft-1949, mandarin pinyin.

or, born in hong kong or macau, nurtured in canton; born in canton, but stowaway to h.k. macau, then, name in hong kong cantonese, or macau cantonese (slightly different romanisation)

some more options:

  • “志偉” extremely common
  • “志黨” (communist party), “志東” (mao tse tung), “志紅 (red)

they three reflected the influences of the 1950s-1970s, in red china.

  • "宏志" is a sensitive name. Better not suggest it.
    – dan
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 7:29
  • @dan, i can't get it, why? Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 7:36
  • Thank you for this feedback! I originally wrote him to be from Guangzhou/the Guandong province, but that may not be necessary to expose in the story and may not be relevant to the plot. I believe this would suggest Cantonese?
    – Luke C.
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 2:21
  • @dan are you talking about FLG?
    – dROOOze
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 4:54
  • 1
    but “宏” is not “洪”, or the taboo is so wide that any “hong” is sensitive? Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 11:54

You can directly use 成功 which is highly acceptable as a name and fulfills your requirement.

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