My Chinese teacher gave me the name 海追远 last year. I picked out the surname 海 because it sounds like my last name, he just gave me the first name 海追远. Now that I've started a college Chinese class, my teacher told me 海 is an uncommon surname and that it doesn't fit with 追远。 I'm looking for honest opinions on how common 海 is as a surname and whether it works with 追远.

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    I saw the last name 海 in a novel, a character in it is named 海大富. Another character from another novel is named 海紅珠. I've never heard of a real-life person have the last name 海. Not any person I heard of, nor any person from the news. Oh, 海瑞 is a real historical character who was a famous government official
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 18:35
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    The famous Hemingway is transliterated as 海明威, maybe you can change your name to 海明远? BTW Heidi is transliterated as 海迪
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 18:42
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    海 is a valid family name, though rather uncommon. I have more problem with 追. Theoretically, you can pick whatever character you like to be your name, but 追 to me sounds a bit unusual. Maybe your teacher was thinking "慎終追遠" when s/he picked that name for you? 慎終追遠 can be loosely translated as "remembering your ancestors".
    – monalisa
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 18:59
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    海 is definitely a valid surname as other comments mentioned. As for the first name, to be honest, you can pick whatever you like. We usually name our children with our wishes. Taking 追遠 as an example, it sounds like you wish the kid to memorize their ancestors (which is important in Chinese culture though). You may be able to provide your expectations for your Chinese name. We can give you suggestions accordingly.
    – hpwww
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 9:12

2 Answers 2


For your first question, there are about 48000 people whose surname is 海 in China, accounting for about 0.004% of Chinese total population. (This data comes from https://wenda.so.com/q/1591524650610065.) It is really a rare surname that I have not seen anyone surnamed 海 around me.

For your second question, I do not know why your teacher told you it doesn't fit with 追远. I think it is ok. And if you still mind it, 海明远 mentioned in comments looks more proper.

Furthermore, having a rare surname is a cool thing in my eyes. When I was young, I always dream to have a rare or compound surname, like 慕容 欧阳 姬. But different from you, I can not choose my surname by myself. I think your teacher may just be worried about your possible misunderstanding of Chinese Name System. It should not be related to name itself.


Is 海追远 "weird" sounding?

Not weird, but certainly "unusual" For males, the traditional names tend to connote qualities like "intelligence", "strength", "bravery", "patriotism","wealth", etc., qualities all parents wish for their children to have.

追远, "to chase far", as a name may elicit a teasing response like 追什么远? (what are you chasing thus far?)

So, it is not "weird", in the negative sense of the word, but I wouldn't name my child that, unless I live on a remote, isolated island and it is my fervent hope that with 海追远 my child would one day escape away from the isolated loneliness and "chase / seek his fame and fortune in far off lands over the seas"

Or, (speculatively), your teacher thought that you have a long, long way to go in your Chinese language studies and it thus amounted to an "ocean of a chase of a distant objective"

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