So, I worked for a lady originally from Shanghai, but operating a TCM health clinic in California. English is her second language. I never got the chance to clarify her statement to me when she told me her name has no meaning. My name is Nicole. She asked me what the meaning of my name was. I told her, "victorious people" this comes from Greek. Anyway, then she said that her name, Weiping, "doesn't mean anything" and she went on to say, "our names don't mean anything". Btw, she brought the topic up altogether first by asking me about my name. Is this true? Chinese names don't mean anything? It's such a long history there with a ton of symbolism especially in TCM so I just don't understand this. What do you think she was talking about?

3 Answers 3


I do not know the circumstances under which your former boss said her name has no meaning, but I do find it quite strange. Whatever the language, most names have meanings. Just think of the lengths to which parents go to to pick a good name for their child. Chinese names most certainly have meaning. Single-syllable names take the meaning from the written character. A two-syllable name (very common in Chinese) may not have a very direct meaning, easily translatable to one single unit, because the two characters may not be related. But each of the two characters definitely has meaning. And the meaning of the name will be derived from these two characters. If I knew how the two characters "Wei Ping" are written, I could probably tell you the meaning of them individually.

Just a wild guess on why she said her name has no meaning. Perhaps her parents never told her explicitly why they chose those two characters to be her name. So when she said her name had no meaning, she meant she didn't know the "reason" behind her name? You said English is her second language, so if her command of English is not very good, it is possible that she was not able to explain the meaning of the two characters in English. Maybe those were rather complicated characters?

Anyway, just my guess. Hope that helps.

  • Contrary to your understanding, the two-word names are often meaningful, such as - "李如意 (吉祥如意)", "黃太平(太太平平)", 陳巧兒(靈巧的小ㄚ頭). My name "世開 - 開太平盛世". By the way, what "monalisa" means?
    – r13
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 0:09
  • IMO, John, Mary, David are interpretative names the same as mine, but the meaning of the rest of the Chinese names cited above can be figured out using a dictionary - the words form a phrase that means something.
    – r13
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 0:26
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    I said, a two-syllable name MAY NOT have a direct meaning easily translatable as one unit. I never ruled out the fact that in some cases they can have a complete, unified meaning. My whole point was, names are meaningful.
    – monalisa
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 0:39
  • 1
    Every Chinese character has meaning, (unless it's made-up just for fun), then, ipso facto, Chinese names should have a, or multiple, meanings, auspicious or otherwise. My name is made up of 鸿春, the former as an adjective means "Large or Grand", as a noun, a "Goose", and the latter means "Spring" The 鸿 is fixed being a common generation name, and 春 because I was born in Spring. So, I could say my name has no "meaning" because it resulted from a random confluence of circumstances rather than a conscious effort to imbue meaning. Of course you could say my name means "A Grand Spring Time" Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 3:21
  • 1
    @r13 慧 is hui, not wei. Maybe 維?衛?微?蔚?Or maybe Wei is her family name 魏?韋?Hard to tell. Ping can be a whole list of different characters as well, 平 屏 萍 蘋 娉 or other less common options.
    – monalisa
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 3:59

There are some Chinese characters that have no practical meaning, they are only used for names. Such as "娜" and "铖".



In addition, the emperor of the Ming Dynasty created many characters, which were used to name the royal family members. They also have no practical meaning. Such as 鈦鋰鈹鎘釩. But these characters were used to name metal elements many years later.


Yes and no. Some are meaningful, some are not. It all depends on who named the names, wished the child to grow up to be, or keep in memory of a memorable thing, or event.

Note that you can also check the meaning of her name using a dictionary - meaning of word or phrase formed by two words identical to her name. It does not work all the time but often provides valuable clues.

  • John, Mary, David are all names rooted in Hebrew. John: graced by God; Mary: bitter, wished-for-child, marine; David: beloved. These names, along with their cognate names in various European languages, all have distinct meaning.
    – monalisa
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 23:11
  • @monalisa You got me :)
    – r13
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 23:42

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