I have been thinking for a few months about what I would like to use for my name when I go to teach English in China next spring. I have read many blog posts and tips about choosing a Chinese name, and have compiled a short list of options, but don't have any Chinese friends (yet!) to review it and I'm paranoid about having picked a "dumb" name.

For my surname, I've picked 林 (nice and easy to remember for me!), and my top given name choice is 彩兰. I have a few other options using 彩 for the first character, but 彩兰 is my favorite (both because the written form is simple enough for me, a beginner, to write, and because of sound and meaning). A couple other options I have are 彩霞, and 彩晖.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback on this choice! Also, if it is not a terrible name, I would appreciate guidance on how to explain the characters when introducing myself.

Note: My English name is Caitlin, and I'm much more attached to the letter "C" in the spelling of my name than to the sound /k/ at the beginning of it, so even though it feels silly, it is more important to me to have a pinyin "c" at the beginning of my Chinese name than to start it with a /k/ sound! I'm strange, I'm sorry.

  • though you already choose “林”, may i ask, what’s your surname? Sep 10, 2021 at 11:47

1 Answer 1


From a native Chinese's POV:

彩霞 is used by a lot of people and it sounded a little bit old. (But I don't know how old you are, if you're born in the 1970s, it's not that bad, still, get prepared for name collisions)

彩晖 is the most "masculine" of the three, still, not that masculine but if I come across that name in the news I'll probably assume it's a man.

I'll suggest you to use 彩兰.

Regarding explanation, I don't think we actually explain the meaning of our names, my name is 书 and I only explain it when I need to tell the delivery guy how to write my name. I won't say "It means book so blah blah blah." when introducing myself to a new community.

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