I am in the midst of trying to learn mandarin but haven't learned enough to feel confident in my naming for some short fiction I'm writing. I'd love suggestions or changes!

Cáo Shīhán, a protagonist & scholar. Easily irritated and stuffy. 曹 诗涵 (poetic & mellow)

Cáo Mǐnxiá, protagonist's small daughter, I had an intention for the name Mǐnxiá but now I can't remember the translation. She's chaotic and improper, but very young. 曹 敏霞

Cáo Níng, above characters twin sister, Wanted her name to be a bit neutral as she looks masculine and is often mistaken for a young boy. Quiet and well-mannered. 曹 宁 (pacify)

Jiāng Wěilì, Secondary character, a nomadic immortal who has lost her region/sect to natural disaster. No funny business but secretly a softie. 江 伟丽 (imposing and beautiful)

Jiāng Yìchén, above character's irritating but lovable son, the other main protagonist. Indulges a bit too much, very passionate. 江 奕辰 (outstanding, sun)

hi!! updating from my phone now but thank you all so much for the responses! i'm definitely getting a better feel for the names that will fit my writing :) does anyone have any suggestions for other names than 奕辰 & 诗涵? i know some said they seem very modern, as well as 伟丽 may seem a bit tacky? i'd love to hear suggestions for more era appropriate names that still suit similar meanings! i'm really learning a lot so thank you very much!

  • 敏霞 and 宁: it’s unusual for twins to not have paired names, let alone names with different numbers of characters. To me 诗涵 also sounds more modern than 敏霞, so it’s a little weird that the former is the latter’s parent. People may find 伟丽 a bit tacky as well. Overall not bad names, perhaps a little plain for fictional characters but maybe that’s what you’re going for.
    – EEQ
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 20:03
  • If those are twin sisters and brought up together, it’s weird to have unrelated names, especially one with 2 and the other with 3 characters.
    – lilysirius
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 20:54
  • @lilysirius would 敏学 work better for 敏霞 twin sister?
    – user34959
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 21:37
  • 敏学 and 敏霞 sound unrelated. 敏学 is more a male name and 敏霞 is a female name. to pair with 敏霞, either 敏雲, 惠霞, or 惠雲 would do
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 21:47
  • 2
    Even native Chinese sometimes name their children casually. My niece named her elder son 仲軒 for example, Older people who hear this name might presume he is the second son and has an older brother named 伯軒
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 21:52

2 Answers 2


I moved my comments here and put it into an answer.

The names are generally good and wouldn't be much of a problem in a fiction. Yet you can still improve those.

  1. SIBLINGS' AND TWINS' NAMES: If those are twin sisters and brought up together, it’s weird to have unrelated names, especially one with 1 and the other with 2 characters. I agree with @EEQ that twin names are usually even more related. Just two points to add. Besides similar meanings or the same category, the same radical is often used, especially for 1-character names (like 安 and 宁). For 2-character names this is less common. Usually the same 1-character suggests their kinship, or less common but still often seen the same 2-character (this rule can be relaxed for female names).

  2. ERA: I also agree with @EEQ that 诗涵 is younger than 敏霞. 诗涵 becomes a popular female name after the 2000s (so does 奕辰 as a male name), but 敏霞 is around the 1980s. 伟丽 is a female name, though a bit neutral (I agree on what @Tang Ho said), that sounds younger than 敏霞 but older than 诗涵, probably still popular in the 1990s. 敏学 sounds even older than 敏霞. There's even a Qing-Dynasty royalty called 敏学. These comments on era are only for Chinese mainlanders. I've never lived in other Chinese speaking areas to comment on those, though I believe 曹宁 is era-neutral and gender-neutral for any region.

  3. AVOID FAMOUS NAMES There are two very famous diving queens 吴敏霞 and 伏敏霞. Since 曹 is a different family name, it wouldn't be a complete problem. But if you don't have a particular reason to keep 敏霞 and have an alternative, I'd suggest you change it.

  4. CASUAL NAMES In reality, especially for the younger generation, casual names are often heard. But in literary works, I'd suggest avoid them, especially for males, like the example given by @Tang Ho, 仲軒. It's perfectly ok for the eldest son in reality, but if seen in a novel, it'd cause me to wonder what happened before he was born.


曹 诗涵: Generally, 诗 is a feminine word, A male name containing a feminine word is not uncommon, it makes the name sound more sensual, reflecting a gentle male image

江 伟丽: Generally, 伟(grand) is a masculine word, and 丽(beauty) is a feminine word. A female name containing a masculine word is not uncommon, it makes the name sound more stoic, reflecting a strong female image

All other names are fine, nothing offensive or strange sounding

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