Lin (surname)

Lin ([lǐn]; Chinese: ; pinyin: Lín) is the Mandarin romanization of the Chinese surname written 林. It is also used in Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, and the Philippines (among the Chinese Filipino community).

Lin (林)
PronunciationLín (Mandarin)
Lim, Liem (Min Nan, Korean, Taiwanese Minnan, Indonesian)
Lam, Lum (Cantonese)
Ling (Eastern Min, Northern Min, Wu Chinese)
Hayashi (Japanese)
Lim (Thai)
Lâm (Vietnamese)
Language(s)Middle Chinese

Among overseas Chinese families, it is sometimes pronounced and spelled as Lim because many Chinese descendants are part of the Southern Min diaspora and speak Min Nan. In Cantonese-speaking regions such as Hong Kong and Macau it is spelled as Lam.

Within mainland China, it is currently around the 18th most common surname.

In Japan, the character 林 is also used but goes by the pronunciation Hayashi, which is the 19th most common surname in Japan.

Name originEdit

King Zhou of Shang (reigned 1154 to 1122 BC), the last king of the Shang dynasty, had three uncles advising him and his administration. The king's uncles were Prince Bi Gan, Prince Jizi, and Prince Weizi. Together the three princes were known as "The Three Kind-Hearted Men of Shang" in the kingdom.[1] Prince Bi Gan was the son of King Wen Ding; he was the brother of King Zhou's father and, thus, was King Zhou's uncle, and served as the king's chancellor.

Zhou was a cruel king, but his three uncles could not persuade him to change his ways. Failing in their duty to advise the king, Prince Weizi resigned. Prince Jizi faked insanity and was relieved of his post. Only Prince Bi Gan stayed on to continue advising the king to change his ways. "Servants who are afraid of being killed and refrain from telling the truth are not righteous" he said. This put him in danger of incurring the king's wrath. Prince Bi Gan stayed at the palace for three days and nights to try to persuade the blood-thirsty and immoral king to mend his ways.[2]

The stubborn king would not relent and had Prince Bi Gan arrested for treason. Upon hearing this, his pregnant wife escaped into the forest and went into labor there. With no one to help her, she gave birth to a boy in the rocky cave in the forest, in a placed called Chang Lin (長林).[3]

Before long, King Zhou was overthrown by King Wu of the Zhou dynasty. King Wu knew about the courageous court advisor Bi Gan and sought his wife and child. When he found them, he honoured them in respect of Prince Bi Gan. The mother and child were restored to the royal family. The new king conferred the surname Lin (meaning forest) and the Duchy of Bo'ling on Prince Bi Gan's son, named Lin (Lim/Lam) Jian (林坚).[citation needed]

Other originsEdit


Within China, 林 is the 2nd most common surname in Fujian,[4] 4th most common in the city of Haikou, and 10th most common in the city of Guangzhou.[5]

In 2019 it was the 18th most common surname in Mainland China.[6]

Different versions of the nameEdit

  • Among the Malaysian Chinese it is not commonly spelled Lin but rather Lim or Lam. The Hakka, Hokkien, Teochew and Hainan communities romanize it as "Lim" whereas the Cantonese-speaking community uses "Lam" or "Lum".
  • The Korean surname Im ( in South Korean spelling; in North Korean spelling; commonly romanized as Lim or Rim) is the Korean pronunciation of the same Chinese character (林). A much less common Korean surname Im is derived from another character (; spelled Im in both North and South Korean) the character used to write the surname Ren. In Korean, the former is called Supul Rim (수풀 림) and the latter Matgil Im (맡길 임) when they need to be distinguished.
  • A common Japanese surname, Hayashi, is written with the same character 林 and also means forest. A much rarer Japanese surname, Rin, is also written with same character.
  • The Vietnamese surname, "Lâm", was formerly written using the same character.
  • In Singapore, although "Lim" and "Lam" are generally more common variants, the extremely rare spelling "Lyn" can be found in select families of Chinese, Japanese, or other East Asian ancestry (also transcribed using the 林 character) and bears no known relation to the English or Scottish surname of the same spelling, or alternate spelling "Ling".
  • A rare Chinese surname which is also transcribed Lin is / (pinyin Lìn), for example the Warring States period statesman Lin Xiangru .
  • Indonesians of Chinese ancestry bearing this surname sometimes spell it as "Liem", pronounced from Fuqing dialect.
  • Guamanians and Filipinos of Chinese descent with this surname mostly use the Hokkien spelling "Lim", as the majority have Fujianese ancestry. It is sometimes found in Hispanicised compound surnames such as "Limjoco" in the Philippines, and "Limtiaco" in Guam; this type of surname is often derived from the full and complete original name of a Spanish-era immigrant patriarch.
  • Prominent Thai Chinese royalist families with this surname are bestowed by member of the royal family some indigenised derivative such as "Limthongkul" "Sirilim" "Limpisthira."
  • The character "霖" (Lín, "heavy rain showers") is also a popular personal name among ethnic Chinese people.

Notable people surnamed LinEdit

This is an East Asian name, meaning the surname is stated "before" the given name, though East Asian persons living in Western countries will often put their surname after their given name.

Lim (Im, Yim)Edit


  • Im Ha-ryong (林河龍, 임하룡), South Korean actor, comedian
  • Im Hyun-sik (林玄植, 임현식), South Korean actor
  • Nana (entertainer) (林珍兒, 임진아, Im Jin-ah), South Korean singer and actress
  • Im Kwon-taek (林權澤, 임권택), South Korean film director
  • Nayeon (林娜璉, 임나연, Im Na-yeon), South Korean singer, member of Twice
  • Im Soo-hyang (林秀香, 임수향), South Korean actress
  • Im Soo-jung (林秀晶 , 임수정), South Korean actress
  • Im Won-hee (임원희), South Korean actor
  • Im Yoon-ah (林潤妸, 임윤아), South Korean singer and actress, member of Girls' Generation(SNSD)
  • Lim Chai-min (林蔡玟, 임채민), South Korean footballer
  • Lim Chang-min (林昶暋, 임창민), South Korean baseball player
  • Lim Chang-yong (林昌勇, 임창용), South Korean baseball player
  • DinDin (林哲, 임철, Lim Cheol), South Korean singer
  • Lim Eun-soo (林恩秀, 임은수), figure skater
  • Lim Hyo-jun (林孝俊, 임효준), South Korean short track speed skater
  • Lim Hyung-joo (林亨柱, 임형주), South Korean opera singer
  • Lim Hyun-gyu (임현규), Korean mixed martial arts fighter
  • JB (林在範, 임재범, Lim Jae-beom), South Korean singer, member of GOT7
  • Lim Jeong-hee (林正姬, 임정희), South Korean singer
  • Lim Ji-min (임지민), South Korean singer
  • Lim Ji-yeon (林智妍, 임지연), South Korean actress (born 1990)
  • Lim Ju-eun (林珠銀, 임주은), South Korean actress
  • Lim Ju-hwan (林周煥, 임주환), South Korean actor
  • Lim Na-young (林娜榮, 임나영), South Korean singer, member of PRISTIN
  • Lim Se-jun (林勢俊, 임세준), South Korean singer, member of Victon
  • Lim Seul-ong (林瑟雍,임슬옹), South Korean singer and actor, member of 2AM
  • Lim Yo-hwan (林遙煥, 임요환), South Korean esports player
  • Lim Young Min (林煐岷, 임영민), South Korean singer, member of AB6IX


Mandarin and Wu Chinese:

  • Lin Biao, military general and former Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China
  • Lin Bih-jaw, Secretary-General to the President of the Republic of China (2016)
  • Lin Bu (林逋), poet
  • Lin Cheng-yi, Deputy Minister of Mainland Affairs Council of the Republic of China
  • Lin Chen-yi, Chief of the General Staff of the Republic of China Armed Forces (2009–2013)
  • Lin Chih-chia, Secretary-General of Legislative Yuan
  • Lin Chih-chien, Mayor of Hsinchu City
  • Lin Chih-sheng, Taiwanese baseball player
  • Lin Chi-ling (林志玲), Taiwanese supermodel, actress
  • Lin Ching-Liang, Taiwanese nuclear physicist
  • Lin Chin-tien, Political Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of China (2012–2013)
  • Lin Chuan, Premier of the Republic of China (2016–2017)
  • Lin Chu-chia, Minister of National Development Council of the Republic of China (2016)
  • Lin Dan (林丹), world Olympic champion, men's singles badminton player, People's Republic of China
  • Lin Di, musician, pipa player with Chinese rock band Cold Fairyland
  • Lin Fangling (born 2001), Chinese badminton player
  • Lin Fong-cheng, Vice Chairman of Kuomintang (2007–2014)
  • Lin Hejie (Lim Ho Kiat 林贺杰), painter and commentator
  • Lin Hwai-min, choreographer and founder of Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theater
  • Lin Hsi-shan, Secretary-General of the Legislative Yuan (1999–2016)
  • Lin Hsi-yao, Vice Premier of the Republic of China (2016–2017)
  • Lin Jeng-yi, Director of National Palace Museum of Taiwan (2016–2018)
  • Lin Join-sane, Secretary-General of Kuomintang (2012)
  • Lin Jun Jie, Singaporean singer and songwriter
  • Lin Junq-tzer, Governor of Taiwan Province (2010–2016)
  • Shu Qi (Lin Li-hui 林立慧), Taiwanese actress and model
  • Lin Ling-san, Minister of Transportation and Communications (2002–2006)
  • Lin Mei-chu, Minister of Labor of the Republic of China (2017–2018)
  • Lin Ming-chen, Magistrate of Nantou County
  • Lin Neng-pai, Minister of Public Construction Commission of the Republic of China (2000–2002)
  • Lin Peng, actress
  • Lin Qingfeng (林清峰), world Olympic champion, weightlifter, athlete
  • Lin Sang, world Olympic silver medalist, athlete, archer
  • Lin San-quei, Vice Minister of Labor of the Republic of China
  • Lin Sen, former president, chairman of National Government of China
  • Lin Shicheng musician, Shanghai-born pipa player
  • Lin Shihong (林士弘), king of Chu dynasty
  • Lin Shu-chen, Administrative Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of China (2013–2016)
  • Lin Teng-chiao, Administrative Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of China
  • Lin Tsung-hsien, Minister of Council of Agriculture of the Republic of China (2017–2018)
  • Lin Tzou-yien, Minister of Health and Welfare of the Republic of China (2016–2017)
  • Lin Tzu-ling, Administrative Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Republic of China
  • Lin Wan-i, Deputy Magistrate of Taipei County (1999–2002)
  • Lin Weining (林伟宁), world Olympic champion, weightlifter, athlete
  • Lin Wenyue, scholar, writer and translator from Taiwan.
  • Lin Xiangru, Chinese politician of the Warring States period
  • Lin Xu (林旭), scholar, poet
  • Lin Yang-kang, former mayor of Taipei city, Chairman of Taiwan province, Taiwanese politician
  • Lin Yanjun, Taiwanese singer and actor, former member of Nine Percent
  • Lin Yi-shih, Secretary-General of Executive Yuan (2012)
  • Lin Youren, musician, Chinese guqin player
  • Lin Youyi (林有懿), Hong Kong-born Singaporean television host and actress
  • Lin Yuan-lang, Magistrate of Nantou County (1989–1997)
  • Lin Yu-chang, Mayor of Keelung City
  • Lin Yu-chun Taiwanese singer
  • Lin Yue (林跃), world Olympic champion, diver
  • Lin Yu-fang, Taiwanese politician
  • Lin Yutang, inventor, linguist, writer, Nobel prize nominee
  • Lin Zexu, nineteenth-century governor-general, imperial commissioner, poet, scholar, diplomat
  • Alfred Lin, Taiwanese-born American venture capitalist
  • Ariel Lin (Lin Yi-chen), Taiwanese actress
  • Brigitte Lin (林青霞, Lin Ch'ing-hsia), Taiwanese film actress
  • Cho-Liang Lin, musician, U.S. Taiwanese violinist, "Instrumentalist of the Year" in 2000
  • David Lin (born 1950), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (2012–2016)
  • Douglas N. C. Lin, astrophysicist
  • Estrella Lin (Lin Wei-ling 林韋伶), Taiwanese singer
  • Jenny Lin, musician, pianist
  • Jeremy Lin (林書豪, Lin Shu-hao), U.S. basketball player
  • Jimmy Lin (林志穎, Lin Chih-ying), Taiwanese film actor and singer
  • Justin Lin, U.S. film director
  • Kelly Lin (林熙蕾), Taiwanese actress, model
  • Kevin Lin (林義傑), marathon runner
  • Lucia Lin, Political Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of China (2014–2016)
  • Maya Lin, artist and architect[7]
  • Ruby Lin (林心如, Lin Xin-ru), Taiwanese actress
  • Tzu-Wei Lin, infielder for the Boston Red Sox


Cantonese form


Alternate Cantonese form


Southern Min




Eastern Min, Northern Min, and Wu form:

  • Ling How Doong (林孝谆, born 1934), Singaporean politician and lawyer
  • Ling Liong Sik (林良实, born 1943), Malaysian politician*Jahja Ling (林望傑, born 1951), Indonesian-born American orchestral conductor
  • Alan Ling Sie Kiong (林思健, born 1983), Malaysian lawyer
  • John Wey Ling (林建伟, born 1958 or 1959), Chinese-born American ballet dancer
  • Julia Ling (林小微, born 1983), American television actress
  • Landon Ling (林家亮, born 1987), Canadian football player
  • Tschen La Ling (林球立, born 1956), Dutch football player
  • Victor Ling (林重慶, born 1943), Chinese-born Canadian scientist

See alsoEdit