Chen (surname)

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Chen surname in regular script
Pronunciation Chén (Pinyin)
Tan (Pe̍h-ōe-jī)
Language(s) Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean
Language(s) Old Chinese
Derivation Chen (state)
Other names
Variant(s) Chen (Mandarin)
Tan (Hokkien, Teochew)
Chan (Cantonese)
Gin (Taishanese, Hakka, Japanese)
Zen (Wu)
Jin (Korean)
Trần (Vietnamese)
Derivative(s) Trần, Jin (Korean name), Saetang (Thai name)

Chen or Chan (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Chén; Wade–Giles: Ch'en) is one of the most common East Asian family names. It ranks as the 5th most common surname in China, as of 2007[1] and the most common surname in Singapore (2000)[2] and Taiwan (2010).[3] Chen is also the most common family name in Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hong Kong (spelt Chan in Hong Kong and Macau). It is the most common surname in Xiamen, the ancestral hometown of many overseas Hoklo.[4] Besides 陳/陈, an uncommon Chinese surname / is also romanized as Chen. Chen (חֵן) is also a Hebrew word meaning "loveliness" and "grace", which is the 30th-most-common surname in Israel.[5]

It is usually romanised as Chan in Cantonese (most widely used by those from Hong Kong), and sometimes as Chun. The surname Chen is also used in Hong Kong Cantonese, but not as often. In Min (including dialects of Chaoshan (Teochew), Hainan, Fujian, and Taiwan), the name is pronounced Tan. In Hakka and Toisan dialects the name is spelled and pronounced as Gin. Some other Romanisations include Zen (from Wu), Ding and Chern. Chen can be variously spelt Tan, Chan or Chin in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

The Korean surname (Jin) is the Korean pronunciation of the same character. In Japanese, the surname is pronounced Chin.

In Vietnam, this surname is written in Quốc Ngữ as Trần and it is the second most common surname.


The initial surname Chen was from Gui (, Gūi), which was an ancient Chinese surname of descendants of Emperor Shun, who was one of the Three August Ones and Five Emperors. When King Wu of Zhou established the Zhou Dynasty, he gave the Land of Chen to Shun's descendants to establish their own state. To show his respect for Emperor Shun, the new state, which was also named Chen, was one of the Three Guest States of Zhou (Chinese: 三恪; pinyin: Sān Kè), which meant this nation was not a subordinate, but a guest of Zhou. However, the Chen state was occupied by Chu after the 10th century BC. Since then, the people of this state began to use Chen as their surname.

During the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (420-589), Chen Baxian established the Chen Dynasty (557-589), the fourth and the last of the Southern dynasties, which was eventually destroyed by the Sui Dynasty.

Other pronunciations[edit]

Notable people surnamed 陳[edit]

Fictional characters with surname Chen (陳)[edit]

Notable people surnamed 諶[edit]

  • Chen Long (谌龙), Chinese badminton player


External links[edit]