Wu is the Pinyin transliteration of the Chinese surname 吳 (Traditional Chinese), 吴 (Simplified Chinese), which is the tenth most common surname in Mainland China. Wu(吳) is the sixth name listed in the Song Dynasty classic Hundred Family Surnames.
Several other, less common Chinese surnames with different pronunciations are also transliterated into English as "Wu": 武, 伍, 仵, 烏, 鄔 and 巫. The Cantonese and Hakka transliteration of 吳 is Ng, a syllable made entirely of a nasal consonant while the Min Nan transliteration of 吳 is Goh or Ngoh, depending on the regional variations in Min Nan pronunciation. In Vietnamese, many of those are read differently, for example Võ or Vũ for 武, Ngô for 吳, Ô for 烏.
Wu (or Woo or Wou) is also the Cantonese transliteration of the different Chinese surname 胡 (see Hu), used in Hong Kong, and by overseas Chinese of Cantonese speaking areas of Guangdong, or Hong Kong origin.
吳 is also one of the most common surnames in Korea. It is spelled 오 in Hangul and romanized O by the three major romanization systems, but more commonly spelled Oh in South Korea. It is also related far back in Chinese history with the name "Zhou (周)" and "Ji (姬)".
History of the surname Wu (吳)
In the 13th century B.C., the state of Zhou (which will later become the Zhou Dynasty) was ruled by Tai Wang (King Tai of Zhou). His surname was originally Ji (姬). He had three sons: Taibo, Zhongyong, and Jili. King Tai of Zhou favored the youngest son, Jili to inherit the reins of power, therefore Taibo and his brother Zhongyong voluntarily left Zhou with a group of followers and headed southeast where they established the state of Wu. Taibo and Zhongyong's descendants eventually adopted Wu (吳) as their surname. The state of Wu later became a powerful kingdom of its own with the help of Generals Wu Zixu and Sun Tzu, the latter best known as the author of the military treatise The Art of War, both serving under King Helü of Wu.
Taibo and Zhongyong's youngest brother Jili stayed to rule the Zhou state and was the grandfather of Wu Wang (King Wu of Zhou) who started the Zhou Dynasty after successfully overthrowing the Shang Dynasty. The descendants of Wu Wang eventually changed their surname from Ji(姬) to Zhou (周) during the Qin Dynasty to commemorate the merits and virtues of their ancestors.
Therefore, the last names Wu (吳), Zhou (周), and Ji (姬) are historically related.
People named Wu
(in alphabetical order according to their names as spelled in Pinyin, or if unavailable, in English)
- 姬 吳泰伯 - Taibo of Wu The eldest son of King Tai of Zhou and the legendary founder of the State of Wu, and the propagator of all people with the surname Wu(吳). Ancestral name is Ji(姬).
- 吳漢 (吴汉) - Wu Han (Han dynasty) Military General of Eastern Han
- 吳景 (吴景) - Wu Jing (Han dynasty) Military General under Warlord Sun Jian
- 吳三桂 (吴三桂) - Wu Sangui (1612–1678) - Ming Dynasty General.
- 吳懿 (吴懿) - Wu Yi (Three Kingdoms) General of Shu Han
- 吳宇森 (吴宇森) - Woo, John, film director
- 吳光正 (吴光正) - Woo Kwong Ching, Peter, Hong Kong entrepreneur, billionaire and politician
- 吳辰君 (吴辰君) - Annie Wu 吳辰君, Taiwanese Actress
- 吳百福 (吴百福) - Wu Baifu (Ando, Momofuku) (1910–2007), Taiwanese-born Japanese inventor of instant noodles
- 吳邦國 (吴邦国) - Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the PRC
- 吳尊 - Wu Chun, Brunei-born actor and singer in Taiwanese band Fahrenheit
- 吳健雄 (吴健雄) - Wu Chien-Shiung, Chinese scientist
- 吳彥祖 (吴彦祖) - Wu, Daniel, American actor
- 吳凱文 (吴凯文) - Wu, Kevin, American internet personality
- 吳振偉 (吴振伟) - Wu, David, congressman from the 1st district of Oregon
- 吳憲 (吴宪) - Wu, Hsien (1893–1959), an early protein scientist
- 吳季剛 (吴季刚) - Jason Wu, Taiwanese Canadian fashion designer
- 吳迪 -Wu Di (pianist), American-Chinese concert pianist
- 吳鑑泉 (吴鉴泉) - Wu Jianquan (1870–1942), Taijiquan teacher
- 吴立红 - Wu Lihong, environmental activist
- 吳蠻 (吴蛮) - Wu Man, pipa and ruan player
- 吳明瑛 (吴明瑛) - Wu Mingying (Nancy Wu), Chinese actress
- 吳慶瑞 (吴庆瑞) - Wu Qingrui (Goh Keng Swee, 1918–2010), former Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore
- 吳瑞 - Wu Rui, Chinese eunuch in Lê Dynasty Annam (Vietnam)
- 吳蕊思 (吴蕊思) - Wu Ruisi (Goh, Theresa Rui Si), Singaporean Paralympic swimmer
- 吳詩聰 - Shin-Tson Wu (born 1953), American physicist and professor
- 吴水娇 – Wu Shujiao (born 1992), Chinese track and field hurdler
- 吳天明 (吴天明) - Wu Tianming, Chinese film director
- 吳文俊 - Wu Wenjun, Chinese mathematician
- 吳儀 (吴仪) - Wu Yi, Vice-premier of the People's Republic of China
- 呉子良 - Wu Ziliang, the birthname of Emi Suzuki, Japanese model of Chinese descent
- 吳作棟 (吴作栋) - Wu Zuodong (Goh Chok Tong), former Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, current Senior Minister of Singapore and the chairman of the central bank of Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore
- 吴亦凡 - Kris Wu, Member of the Chinese - South Korean Boygroup EXO
- 吴俐璇 - Wu Lixuan (Jojo Goh), Malaysian Miss Astro Chinese International 2006 - 2nd runner-up
- 吳 - Wu, Frank, science-fiction artist
- 吳奇隆 - Wu Qilong (Nicky Wu), Chinese Actor/Singer
- 吴映洁 - Wu Ying Chieh (Gui Gui), Taiwanese Mandopop singer and actress
- 伍連德 - Wu Lien-teh, Chinese physician and plague fighter
- Wu, Melissa, Australian diver
- 伍潔芳 (伍洁芳) - WuDunn, Sheryl, American writer
- 伍家球 - Wu, William F., science fiction author
- 伍子胥 - Wu Zixu, general in the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history
- 鄔君梅 (邬君梅) - Wu Junmei (Vivian Wu), Chinese actress
- "百家姓" [Hundred Family Surnames] (in Chinese). Guoxue. Retrieved 2014-01-16.
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