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is the pinyin transliteration of the Chinese surname (Simplified Chinese ), which is the tenth most common surname in Mainland China. Wú (吳) is the sixth name listed in the Song Dynasty classic Hundred Family Surnames.[1]

Chinese surname Wu.png
Wu surname in regular script
RomanizationWu (Mandarin)
Ng (Cantonese, Hakka)
Ngo/Ngoh/Go/Goh/Gouw (Min Nan)
Ngô (Vietnamese)
O/Oh (Korean)
Ngor (Cambodian)
Kure/Go (Japanese)
Language(s)Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean
Language(s)Old Chinese
Other names
See alsoO (surname)
Ng (surname)

The Cantonese and Hakka transliteration of 吳 is Ng, a syllable made entirely of a nasal consonant while the Min Nan transliteration of 吳 is Ngo, Ngoh, Goh, Go, Gouw, depending on the regional variations in Min Nan pronunciation.

吳 is also one of the most common surnames in Korea. It is spelled in Hangul and romanized O by the three major romanization systems, but more commonly spelled Oh in South Korea. It is also related far back in Chinese history with the name "Zhou (周)" and "Ji (姬)". The Vietnamese equivalent of the surname is Ngô.

Several other, less common Chinese surnames are also transliterated into English as "Wu", but with different tones: , , , (also ), and .

Wu (or Woo or Wou) is also the Cantonese transliteration of the Chinese surname 胡 (Mandarin Hu), used in Hong Kong, and by overseas Chinese of Cantonese-speaking areas of Guangdong, Guangxi, and/or Hong Kong/Macau origin.

History of the surname Wu (吳)Edit

The name originates from the ancient state of Wu in present-day province of Jiangsu, and it literally means, 'Gateway to Heaven.'[citation needed]

In the 13th century BC, the state of Zhou (which will later become the Zhou Dynasty) was ruled by Tai Wang (King Tai of Zhou). His surname was originally Ji (姬). He had three sons: Taibo, Zhongyong, and Jili. King Tai of Zhou favored the youngest son, Jili to inherit the reins of power, therefore Taibo and his brother Zhongyong voluntarily left Zhou with a group of followers and headed southeast where they established the state of Wu.[2][3] Taibo and Zhongyong's descendants eventually adopted Wu (吳) as their surname. The state of Wu later became a powerful kingdom of its own with the help of Generals Wu Zixu and Sun Tzu, the latter best known as the author of the military treatise The Art of War, both serving under King Helü of Wu. King Helü is considered to be one of the Five Hegemons of China during the Spring and Autumn period.

Taibo and Zhongyong's youngest brother Jili stayed to rule the Zhou state and was the grandfather of Wu Wang (King Wu of Zhou) who started the Zhou Dynasty after successfully overthrowing the Shang Dynasty. The descendants of Wu Wang eventually changed their surname from Ji (姬) to Zhou (周) during the Qin Dynasty to commemorate the merits and virtues of their ancestors.[4]

Therefore, the surnames Wu (吳), Zhou (周), and Ji (姬) are historically related.

Notable peopleEdit

(in alphabetical order according to their names as spelled in Pinyin, or if unavailable, in English)

Historical figuresEdit

Modern figuresEdit

Other surnamesEdit

Wǔ ()Edit

Wǔ ()Edit

Wū ()Edit

  • 鄔君梅 (邬君梅) - Wu Junmei (Vivian Wu), Chinese actress

Wū ()Edit

  • 乌国庆 (烏國慶) - Wu Guoqing, police detective and forensic scientist

Wū ()Edit

"shaman" rarely occurs as a surname, in antiquity, as the name of legendary astronomer Wu Xian 巫咸. Wuma 巫馬 (lit. "horse shaman; equine veterinary") also a Chinese compound surname, for example, the Confucian disciple Wuma Shi/Qi 巫馬施/期.


  1. ^ "百家姓" [Hundred Family Surnames] (in Chinese). Guoxue. Retrieved 2014-01-16.
  2. ^ "Wu Family History". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  3. ^ "History of Chinese surname Wu". People's Daily Online. 21 June 2005. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Chinese Zhou surname history". People's Daily Online. 17 June 2005. Retrieved 10 April 2018.

External linksEdit