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Meaning and Origin of: He

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Last name origins & meanings:

  1. Chinese: from a southern pronunciation of the name of the state of Han (in present-day Shaanxi province), which existed during the early stages of the Western Zhou dynasty (1122–771 bc). This was the fief of a younger brother of Cheng Wang, second king of the Zhou dynasty (see Han). When the state of Han was later annexed by the state of Jin, the members of the royal family scattered. Those descendants who settled further south, in the area of the Yangtze and Huai rivers, found that the character for Han was pronounced He in this area, and so changed their name to a character more widely pronounced He.
  2. Chinese: during the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220 ad), members of the Qing clan needed to change their surname, as Qing was the name of the emperor’s father and so they were not permitted to use this name. They decided on he, which like qing means ‘celebrate’. In modern Chinese these two characters have been compounded into one word, qinghe, which also means ‘celebrate’.
  3. Chinese: from a word meaning ‘and’ in modern Chinese, which was part of the title Xihe ‘astrologer’. Members of the He clan held this hereditary position and adopted their surname from the title.
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