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Chen ([ʈʂʰə̌n]) (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Chén; Wade–Giles: Ch'en) is one of the most common East Asian surnames. It is the most common surname in Taiwan (2010)[1] and Singapore (2000).[2] Chen is also the most common family name in Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, and Hong Kong. It is the most common surname in Xiamen, the ancestral hometown of many overseas Hoklo.[3] Besides 陳/陈, an uncommon Chinese surname / (Shen) can also be romanized as Chen.[4]

Chen surname in regular script
RomanizationChen (Mandarin)
Dunn (Taiwanese, Mingnamyu, Holo)
Chan (Cantonese)
Tan (Hokkien, Teochew)
Chin (Taishanese, Hakka, Japanese)
Zen (Wu)
Ding (Gan)
Jin (Korean)
Trần (Vietnamese)
Hartanto (Indonesian)
PronunciationChén (Pinyin)
Tan (Pe̍h-ōe-jī)
Language(s)Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Korean
Language(s)Old Chinese
DerivationChen (state)
Other names
Derivative(s)Trần, Jin (Korean name)
Sae-Tang Sae-Chen Sae-Chin Sae-Tan (Thai name)
Hartanto (Chinese Indonesian)

It is usually romanized as Chan in Cantonese, most widely used by those from Hong Kong, and sometimes as Chun. 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 Taishanese, the name is spelled Chin. In Wu it is pronounced Zen.

In Japanese, the surname is transliterated Chin. In Vietnam, this surname is written in Quốc Ngữ as Trần and it is the second most common surname. In Thailand, this surname is the most common surname of Thai Chinese often pronounced according to Teochew dialect as Tang.


Chen was derived from Gui (), the surname of the descendants of the legendary sage king Emperor Shun. When King Wu of Zhou established the Zhou dynasty in 1046/45 BC, he enfeoffed his son-in-law Gui Man (Duke Hu of Chen). Gui Man was said to be a descendant of Emperor Shun, at the State of Chen, in modern Huaiyang County, Henan Province. Chen was conquered by Chu in 479 BC, and the people of Chen adopted the name of their former state 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).[5]

Fujian[where?] 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 such as when a Yuan dynasty envoy had a meeting with the Chinese speaking Tran Prince Trần Quốc Tuấn in 1282.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Other pronunciations and transliterationsEdit

Chen family ancestral temple, in Xiazai Village, Cangnan County, Zhejiang

Notable people surnamed 陳Edit

Historical figuresEdit


Modern figuresEdit

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



  1. ^ "Common Chinese Names". Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Statistics Singapore - Popular Chinese Surnames in Singapore". Archived from the original on 23 February 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  3. ^ 厦门第一大姓陈氏:先辈300万贯钱买厦门岛. China Review News (in Chinese). 1 October 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  4. ^ "谌(諶) Shèn 名 姓。另见162页 chén。")現代漢語詞典(第七版). Contemporary Chinese Dictionary (Seventh Edition). Commercial Press. 1 September 2016. p. 1165. ISBN 978-7-100-12450-8.
  5. ^ "". Archived from the original on 10 September 2004.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 120.
  7. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 103.
  8. ^ ed. Hall 2008, p. 159.
  9. ^ eds. Dutton & Werner & Whitmore 2013 .
  10. ^ Gunn 2011, p. 112.
  11. ^ Embree & Lewis 1988, p. 190.
  12. ^ Woodside 1971, p. 8.
  13. ^ Xinhua News Agency. "秘鲁改组内阁 华裔 何塞·陈出任总理". 15 September 2010. Accessed 22 December 2016.

External linksEdit