I hear it is taboo to call any family member by their given name, especially if you are speaking to an older relative. Or if not taboo, then at the very least it is extremely rude. Do people ever call their mom/grandmother/aunt by their given name to disrespect them on purpose? Like in movies or something? Or does nobody ever do it at all?

In English I have heard kids call their parents by their name as a joke, or if they are feeling very hateful and bitter towards their parents. I also know someone who calls their aunt by name (just Kim, not Aunt Kim) because they are not close at all, basically like strangers. I wonder if you can do the same in Chinese or if it is more offensive than in English.

3 Answers 3


Calling a family member of the older generation by the first name only is taboo. You must address your parents and grandparents with appropriate honorific or pet name e.g. /爸爸,媽媽/ 公公,奶奶

Calling a family member in your generation who is older than your (e.g. older brother, older cousin) by the first name is also not natural.

For uncles and aunts, you can use their first names but must add their titles at the end. e.g. 二叔/ 志強叔,三叔/ 國強叔

You are free to call any family member in your generation who is younger than you by the first name, except if one of your uncles is younger than you, you still have to treat him as your senior.

You are free to call any family member of the younger generation by the first name. However, it is considered too formal. Most people use pet names to call the younger family members. e.g. 小明 instead of 家明


I don't know how others think, so I just talk about my own experience. I have never seen any Chinese person express his/her anger or contempt over an elderly relative by calling the latter's name, probably because doing so is not just rude, but also very unnatural in Chinese culture. Even in films and literatures, one just say "I hate my mother" or "I hate that f**king woman", not "I hate Guifen (i.e. the person's mother's name)", even he/she has broken up with his/her mother and hate her from head to toe.


When you call a family member or anyone by their given name, you disregard the higher position or rank relative to you, so that you position yourself as the same age range/rank as theirs.

In addition, calling people by their given name indicates a close relationship (for example, husband<->wife, elder brother->younger brother).

So if someone is trying to be offensive, they will call their family member in higher rank by their full name.

  • When a son called his father by the full name. I expecting to see a murder happens.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 2:27
  • That's certainly offensive, but it is also quite an odd/uncommon way to be offensive to call his father by the full name
    – wada
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 9:03
  • It means you no longer acknowledge him as your father
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 9:10
  • It's unusual. It could happen in a stepmother/stepfather situation
    – wada
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 9:18
  • 1
    More likely in a drama, for example, a police son arrests his crime boss father, his father called him by the full name and said how dare you! Then the son used his father's full name and said you are under arrest
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 10:17

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