Ji (surname 季)

is the Mandarin pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname written in Chinese character. It is romanized as Chi in Wade–Giles, and Gwai in Cantonese.[1] Ji is the 142nd most common surname in China, with a population of 960,000. It is listed the 134th in the Song dynasty classic text Hundred Family Surnames.[2]

Ji (季)
PronunciationJì (Mandarin)
Gwai (Cantonese)
Language(s)Old Chinese
Other names
Variant form(s)Chi, Kwai


In ancient usage, the characters of meng (孟), zhong (仲), shu (叔) and ji (季) were used to denote the first, second, third and fourth eldest sons in a family. The Chinese character Ji 季 is composed of two parts: 禾 (grain) and 子 (son), and originally means "young grain". Later it acquired the meaning of "the youngest", and was frequently used in the name or title of the youngest son (or daughter) of a family. It is from this usage that the character became a surname.[3] According to analysis based on the early 11th-century dictionary Guangyun, in Middle Chinese the character was pronounced [kwi].[1]


As of 2008, Ji 季 is the 142nd most common surname in China, shared by 960,000 people, or 0.077% of the Chinese population.[4][3] It is concentrated in East China, including Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai. Jiangsu province alone accounts for 44% of the people surnamed Ji 季, followed by Zhejiang with 10%.[3]


The main origin of the Ji 季 surname is the state of Lu during the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. Prince You was commonly called Ji You (季友) as he was the youngest son of Duke Huan of Lu. After the death of his older brother Duke Zhuang of Lu, Ji You helped Duke Zhuang's son to ascend the throne as Duke Xi of Lu, and he became Duke Xi's chief minister. He was the founding patriarch of the Jisun clan, the most powerful of the Three Huan clans that dominated the politics of Lu for centuries to come. His descendants adopted Jisun, which was later shortened to Ji, as their surname. This source of Ji 季 is a branch of Ji 姬, the ancestral surname of the dukes of Lu.[3][5]

A second origin of the Ji surname was Jilian (季連), the first recorded ruler of the state of Chu. This origin of Ji is a branch of Mi 芈, the royal surname of Chu.[3][5]

Several other states of the Zhou dynasty, such as Qi and Wei, also had noble lineages that adopted Ji 季 as their surname.[3]

Later adoptionEdit

During the Ming and Qing dynasties, several Mongol and Manchu clans adopted the Ji surname, and many Ji-surnamed people in Northeast China are from this origin.[3]

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ a b "季". Zdic. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  2. ^ "百家姓" [Hundred Family Surnames] (in Chinese). Guoxue. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g 季姓起源 [Origin of the Ji surname] (in Chinese). Greater China Genealogy. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  4. ^ 中国最新300大姓排名(2008) [300 most common surnames in China (2008)] (in Chinese). Taiwan.cn. 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  5. ^ a b 季姓起源,名人及家谱 [Origin and famous people of the Ji surname] (in Chinese). Shangdu. 2008-07-17. Archived from the original on 2014-05-10. Retrieved 2014-06-11.