Chen (surname)

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For other uses, see Chen (disambiguation).
Chen / Chan
Chen surname in regular script
Pronunciation Chén (Pinyin)
Tan (Pe̍h-ōe-jī)
Language(s) Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese
Language(s) Old Chinese
Derivation Chen (state)
Other names
Variant(s) Chen (Mandarin)
Tan (Hokkien, Teochew)
Chan (Cantonese)
Chin (Taishanese, Hakka, Japanese)
Zen (Wu)
Jin (Korean)
Trần (Vietnamese)
Derivative(s) Trần, Jin (Korean name),
Sae-Tang Sae-Chen Sae-Chin Sae-Tan Sae-Chin (Thai name)

Chen ([ʈʂʰə̌n])[1] or Chan (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Chén; Wade–Giles: Ch'en) is one of the most common Han Chinese and Korean family names. It ranks as the 5th most common surname in China, as of 2007[2] and the most common surname in Singapore (2000)[3] and Taiwan (2010).[4] 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.[5] Besides 陳/陈, an uncommon Chinese surname / is also romanized as Chen.

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. The spelling, Chan, is widely used in Macao and Malaysia. 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.

Chen also occurs as a Hebrew surname in Israel.[6]


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. It was also during this period that nomadically-cultured Xianbei people had systematically assimilated into China's agrarian culture, and adopted Chinese surnames under the state directives of Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei; the Xianbei subjects whose surname of "侯莫陳" (Hóumòchén) were converted to "陳" (Chen).[7]

The Chinese region of Fujian was the original home of a Chen clan before that migrated under "Trần Kinh" 陳京 (Chén Jīng) to Dai Viet and whose descendants established the Tran dynasty which ruled Vietnam (Dai Viet), and certain members of the clan could still speak Chinese like when a Yuan dynasty envoy had a meeting with the Chinese speaking Tran Prince Trần Quốc Tuấn in 1282.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

Other pronunciations[edit]

Notable people surnamed 陳[edit]

Historical figures[edit]

  • Chen Sheng Rebel Leader of the Dazexiang_Uprising during the Qin Dynasty
  • Chen Ping (died 173 BC) Minister and Chancellor of the Han dynasty
  • Chen Tang general of the Western Han Dynasty
  • Chen Gong (died 198) Advisor under warlord Lu Bu
  • Chen Wu (died 215) General under warlord Sun Quan
  • Chen Zhen (died 235) Minister of Shu Han
  • Chen Qun (died 238) Official of Cao Wei
  • Chen Tai (died 260) Official and General of Cao Wei
  • Chen Dao General under Warlord Liu Bei later Shu Han
  • Chen Deng (204-237) Politician in the late Han Dynasty
  • Chen Biao General of Eastern Wu
  • Chen Shi General of Shu Han
  • Chen Shou (233-297) Historian and Author in the Early Jin Dynasty
  • Chen Baxian Founding Emperor of the Chen Dynasty
  • Chen Qian Second Emperor of the Chen Dynasty
  • Chen Bozong Third Emperor of the Tang Dynasty
  • Chen Xu Fourth Emperor of the Chen Dynasty
  • Chen Shubao Fifth and Last Emperor of the Chen Dynasty
  • Chen Shuda Official of the Sui Dynasty and Chancellor of the Tang Dynasty
  • Chen Li, second and the last emperor of the Dahan regime in the late Yuan Dynasty of China
  • Chen Lin, naval general of Ming Dynasty and Commander-in-chief of the Battle of Noryang
  • Chen Yuanyuan, concubine of Wu Sangui
  • Chen Li (1810–1882), Cantonese scholar of the evidential research school
Modern figures

Note: this list is ordered by given name commonly used in English, regardless of spelling of surname and name order.

Fictional characters with surname Chen (陳)[edit]

Notable people surnamed 諶[edit]

  • Chen Long (谌龙), Chinese badminton player


  1. ^ The approximate pronunciation in English is /ən/.
  2. ^ "公安部统计显示王姓成为我国第一大姓_新闻中心_新浪网". Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  3. ^ "Statistics Singapore - Popular Chinese Surnames in Singapore". Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  4. ^ "Common Chinese Names". Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  5. ^ 厦门第一大姓陈氏:先辈300万贯钱买厦门岛. China Review News (in Chinese). 2010-10-01. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Yediot Achronot. 23 Feb 2004. Op. cit. in "[ Jerusalem 271 to 300]".
  7. ^
  8. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 120.
  9. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 103.
  10. ^ ed. Hall 2008, p. 159.
  11. ^ eds. Dutton & Werner & Whitmore 2013 .
  12. ^ Gunn 2011, p. 112.
  13. ^ Embree & Lewis 1988, p. 190.
  14. ^ Woodside 1971, p. 8.

External links[edit]