Hu (surname)

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Hu () is a Chinese surname. In 2006, it was the 15th most common surname in China.[1][2] In 2013, it was the 13th most common in China, with 13.7 million Chinese sharing this surname.[3] In 2019, Hu dropped to 15th most common surname in Mainland China.[4]

Some other, less common surnames pronounced Hu include , , , , , , , and . In Cantonese, “胡” is also pronounced as "Wu" or "Woo".


In Classical Chinese, 胡 meant: "dewlap; wattle" and was a variant Chinese character for "how; why; what" (he ), "long-lasting; far-reaching" (xia ), "part of a dagger-axe", hu- in "butterfly" (hudie 蝴蝶), or possibly "Northern Barbarians".[5]


According to tradition, the Hu (胡) surname has several historical origins. First, Hu could derive from the family of Duke Hu of Chen. King Wu of Zhou (r. 1046-043 BCE) enfeoffed his son-in-law Gui Man 媯滿 (supposedly a descendant of the legendary sage king Emperor Shun) with the state of Chen (in modern Henan Province). His posthumous name was Duke Hu, and some of his descendants adopted Hu as their surname. Second, Hu could derive from two Zhou vassal states named Hu 胡, one located near Luohe (Henan Province) or another near Fuyang (Anhui Province). Third, Hu could derive from non-Chinese people adopting it as their surname. For example, in the 496 Change of Xianbei names to Han names, Hegu/Gegu 紇骨 was changed to Hu 胡. Fourth, Hu could derive from the clan name of the ancient Tiele people within the Xiongnu confederation.[citation needed]

Non-Chinese peoples and ethnic minorities in China sometimes took the Chinese exonym for their ethnic group as their surname. The best example is Hu 胡, which was anciently used to refer to "barbarian" groups on the northern and western frontiers of China.

Hu (胡) was used for various northern and western peoples of non-Han Chinese stock. It has been used for people of Persian, Sogdian, Turkic, Xianbi, Indian and Kushan origin and occasionally for the Xiongnu (probably because of their connections with the Tonghu or Eastern Hu – a separate tribe conquered by the Xiongnu).[6]

Two historically significant Hu names are Donghu 東胡 (literally "Eastern Barbarians") "ancient Mongolian nomadic group" and the Wu Hu 五胡 ("Five Barbarians") "five nomadic tribes involved in the Wu Hu uprising" (304-316 CE) against the Jin dynasty. Hu (Foochow Romanized: Hù; POJ: Hô or Ô) was also one of the eight surnames of the first Han Chinese clans who first moved out the Central Plains into Fujian province (八姓入閩; Foochow Romanized: Báik Sáng Ĭk Mìng) during this conflict.[citation needed]

The Hồ 胡 clan which founded the Hồ dynasty in Vietnam originated in Zhejiang province of China.[7][8]

The Hu family of Xidi are descended from Hu Shiliang, from Wuyuan, who was a descendant of Hu Changyi, a son of Emperor Zhaozong of Tang who was adopted by the Wuyuan Hu family.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

Based on a study in 2020, Hu is a common surname in Italy due to significant amount of immigration population from Zhejiang.[17][18]

The surname 虎 (Hǔ), which means "Tiger", is rare in China to the point where many people are not aware that it is used as a surname. Some believe it comes from the name of a 4,300-year-old chancellor, while others believe it originates among the Hui Muslim minority.[19][20][21]

Notable people[edit]

Hu Jintao (胡锦涛)
Hu Dahai (胡大海)

See also[edit]

  • Ho, variant of surname Hu
  • Oh or Ow, Fujian variant of surname Hu


  1. ^ China renews top 100 surnames, Li still the biggest, People's Daily Online, January 11, 2006.
  2. ^ Meaning of Chinese names - H
  3. ^ Bloomberg News {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "新京报 - 好新闻,无止境".
  5. ^ Bernhard Karlgren. Grammata Serica Recensa. Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. 1957:34.
  6. ^ Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE, p. 192. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.
  7. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 166.
  8. ^ ed. Hall 2008, p. 161.
  9. ^ "Xidi Village". ChinaTour.Net.
  10. ^ "China Xidi-Huangshan Xidi-Welcome To Xidi". China Xidi.
  11. ^ "Xidi village ancient village in the south of Anhui". China Escapade.
  12. ^ "Xidi Village". Meet China.
  13. ^ 周, 倩, ed. (2015-07-07). "Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun". English Rednet.
  14. ^ "Two Beauties Below Yellow Mountain". China Digital Review. July 27, 2015.
  15. ^ "Snapshot of Me: Villages of an Hui". 2012-08-25.
  16. ^ "Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui - Xidi and Hongcun" (PDF). UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 2 December 2000.
  17. ^ "Nella Milano dei signori Hu: "Cognome cinese, ma siamo italiani"". Repubblica. 2020-08-12.
  18. ^ "Hu è il cognome più diffuso a Milano". AGI. 2020-08-11.
  19. ^ Wang, Guanqun, ed. (2010-02-10). ""Tiger" a rare but strong family name in China". Xinhua. Archived from the original on February 18, 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  20. ^ "'Tiger' rare but strong family name in China". China Daily. 2010-02-10. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  21. ^ Yang, Chiu-ying (Mar 25, 2009). "Man on the hunt for rare family names". Taipei Times. p. 4. Retrieved 30 April 2013.

External links[edit]