Baixing (Chinese: 百姓; pinyin: bǎixìng; literally: "hundred surnames" or lao baixing (Chinese: 老百姓; literally: "old hundred surnames") is a term in Chinese meaning "the people", or "commoners". The word lao (Chinese: 老; literally: "old") is often added before "baixing" to give the term a more affectionate tone.
Chinese family names are patrilineal, passed from father to children. Chinese women, after marriage, typically retain their birth surname. Historically, however, only Chinese men possessed xìng (Chinese: 姓; literally: "family name"), in addition to shì (Chinese: 氏; literally: "clan"); the women had only the latter, and took on their husband's xìng after marriage.
During the Western Zhou, Baixing came to mean "slaveowners" and Limin their slaves. Over thousands of years[clarify], the terms Baixing and Limin came to refer to the same thing, the common people.