List of Mandarin Chinese Nicknames

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Looking for endearing and cute nicknames in Mandarin Chinese language? Wondering how and when to use a nickname in China? In this article, we are going to look at some Chinese nicknames.

It is worth mentioning that there are many variations and dialects of the Chinese language, including different cultures, so this article generally applies to more internationalized regions.

We recommend reading: Chinese female and male names and their meanings

How do you say Last Name in Chinese?

Nickname or nickname in the Chinese language is [昵称] (nǐ chēng). This word is formed by the characters “昵” (nǐ) which means “intimate” and “称” (chēng) which means “to call” or “to name”.

Together, these characters form the word [昵称], which refers to a name or title given to a person in an intimate, informative or funny way, often used in a casual setting or among friends.

There are other similar words and synonyms in Chinese which are:

  • 绰号 (chuò hào) meaning “nickname” or “surname”, often used to refer to nicknames based on family names.
  • 别名 (bié míng) meaning “alternate name” or “nickname”, usually used to refer to something or someone who has a different name to differentiate from the original name.
  • 绰号 (chūo hào) which means “nickname” or “surname” this is also a way of referring to a nickname based on family names, but some language scholars consider it less formal than 绰号 (chuò hào).
  • 小名 (xiǎo míng) or 乳名 (rǔ míng) which means nickname for children, usually cute and related to fruits, snacks and drinks.
Young asian group with thumbs up

What are nicknames in China?

In China, it is common for people to use nicknames or “nicknames” instead of their real names. These nicknames can be based on physical aspects, personalities, skills or funny stories.

Most nicknames in China are made up of two or more words, and each character has a meaning, to understand the full meaning of the nickname, it is necessary to understand the context.

It is worth mentioning that Chinese nicknames can have regional variations, so usually only those who are close to the person really understand the meaning or reason for the nickname used.

Some examples of common nicknames in China include “Xiao Ming” (little Ming), “Da Wang” (great king), and “Lao Liu” (old Liu). Some nicknames are based on physical appearance, such as "Da Mei" (beautiful, pretty) or "Da Shou" (big hands), while others are based on personality or abilities, such as "Da Gao" (tall) or "Da Kong" (clever).

Some may also be based on past experiences or events, such as “Da Tong” (expert) or “Da Pi” (expensive). It is important to remember that nicknames in China are usually given by friends or family members, not by yourself.

How are Chinese nicknames chosen?

Generally, popular nicknames in China start with the ideogram “小” (xiǎo) which means small. Another popular way to create nicknames in Chinese uses repeating characters (called “叠词” (dié cí)).

Some people also use nicknames that end with “儿” (ér) or that start with “阿” (ā). Another way of creation is to derive the nickname from the second name.

Other ways to create nicknames in Chinese are:

  • Using homophones (音韵词, yīn yùn cí) to create funny or ironic nicknames;
  • Using popular expressions (成语, chéng yǔ) as a basis for funny or appropriate nicknames;
  • Using historical or literary characters as inspiration for nicknames;
  • Using ideograms based on luck or good luck, such as “福” (fú), “寿” (shòu) and “吉” (jí);
  • Using ideograms based on the element of nature, such as “阳” (yáng), “阴” (yīn) or “月” (yuè);
  • Using animal-based ideograms, such as “龙” (lóng) or “凤” (fèng);
  • Using plant-based ideograms such as “桂” (guì) or “梅” (méi);
  • Using Hobby and person related things;

There are other popular Chinese forms of address. Seniors, for example, can call each other [“老” (lǎo) + first name] if they are good friends. The character [老] means old.

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Difference between Chinese, Japanese and Korean Nicknames

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean nicknames are similar in some ways, but they have some key differences to point out in this article.

Chinese nicknames are commonly based on physical aspects, personalities or abilities. They are often given out by friends or family and can consist of single characters or entire sentences.

Japanese nicknames can also be based on physical features, personalities, or abilities, but often involve more punning the names, suffix usage, and variations of character readings. They are usually used informally by friends.

Korean nicknames are less common than Chinese and Japanese nicknames. The Korean language is not that malleable, so nicknames usually attach some object to the person's name.

We recommend seeing other articles about nicknames below:

List of Affectionate Nicknames in Mandarin Chinese

Here are some examples of endearing Chinese nicknames:

  • 宝贝 (bǎo bèi) – darling, treasure
  • 亲爱的 (qīn ài de) – dear
  • 小可爱 (xiǎo kě ài) – small and cute
  • 小宝贝 (xiǎo bǎo bèi) – small treasure
  • 小甜心 (xiǎo tián xīn) – sweet little heart
  • 小萌萌 (xiǎo méng méng) – small and adorable
  • 甜心 (tián xīn) – sweet heart
  • 宝宝 (bǎo bao) – baby
  • 小猪 (xiǎo zhū) – small pig
  • 小兔 (xiǎo tù) – little rabbit
  • 小鸭 (xiǎo yā) – little duck
  • 小美人 (xiǎo měi rén) – little beauty
  • 小甜美 (xiǎo tián měi) – small and sweet
  • 小猫咪 (xiǎo māo mī) – small cat
  • 小熊猫 (xiǎo xióng māo) – little panda
  • 小鹿 (xiǎo lù) – small deer
  • 小鸟 (xiǎo niǎo) – small bird
  • 小喵 (xiǎo miāo) – small meow
  • 小丸子 (xiǎo wán zi) – small ball
  • 小可爱 (xiǎo kě ài) – small and cute
  • 小虎 (xiǎo hǔ) – little tiger

These are just a few examples, and it is important to remember that the choice of nickname will depend on the relationship and the context in which it is used, which can range from endearment to teasing.

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