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What is Tam last name in Chinese?

Are you curious about the Tam last name and its origin in the Chinese language? The surname Tam is transliterated as 谭 in Chinese, and it is a common surname in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other parts of the world. In this blog post, we will explore the history and meaning behind the surname Tam.

The Origin of Tam Last Name

According to Chinese ancient records, the Tam surname originated in the state of Lu during the Zhou Dynasty, which lasted from the 11th century BC until 221 BC. It is believed that the ancestors of the Tam family were descendants of a nobleman named Ji, who was one of the cadet branches of the Zhou royal house. Ji’s descendant was granted the surname “Tan,” which later transformed into Tam.

Later on, the Tam surname spread to other parts of China such as Guangdong, Fujian, and other southern regions. During the Tang Dynasty, the Tam family was ranked among the hundred prominent families, which was a prestigious status of the time.

The Meaning behind Tam Last Name

The Chinese character for Tam, 谭, is made up of two parts. The first part, 讠(yán), is the phonetic component of the character, which indicates that it is a sound and should be pronounced like yán. The second part, 谈(tán), is the significant component of the character, which means “to talk” or “to discuss.”

Therefore, the Tam surname can be translated as “to talk” or “to discuss,” which reflects the historical background and characteristics of the Tam family. The Tam family lineages are known to be proficient in literature, and hence, it is associated with the ability to communicate and express their thoughts effectively.

The Distribution of Tam Last Name in China

Based on the population distribution of Tam surname in China, it is observed that the Tam family is mostly concentrated in southern China. The provinces with the highest population of Tam families are Guangdong, Fujian, and Jiangsu.

In Hong Kong and Macau, the Tam family is also common. Many famous celebrities and politicians have the surname Tam, which has brought fame and pride to the Tam family.


In summary, the Tam last name is a common surname in China, and its origin can be traced back to the Zhou Dynasty. The Chinese character for Tam, 谭, is made up of two parts, namely 讠and 谈. The meaning behind Tam surname is “to talk” or “to discuss,” which reflects a family that values communication, literature, and the arts.

Despite the rapid modernization and urbanization in China, the Tam family lineage and cultural heritage are still valued and passed down from generation to generation. The Tam surname is an integral part of Chinese cultural and historical heritage, and it will continue to play an essential role in shaping the future of China.


Is Tam a Cantonese last name?

Yes, “Tam” is a Cantonese last name. In Chinese, it is written as 譚 and 談. These two characters have the same pronunciation “tàm” in Cantonese but slightly different meanings. The character 譚 means “fable” or “story,” while the character 談 means “to talk” or “to discuss.” Both characters are commonly used as last names among Cantonese-speaking people.

The origin of the Tam last name can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). It is believed that the Tam family is originated from Luoyang, in central China. Later, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), some Tams migrated to southern China, particularly to Guangdong province, where Cantonese is the primary language. Since then, Tam became a common last name among Cantonese people.

In addition, the Tam surname also has several other variants, such as Tan, Tamg, and Tham, which are used by people with the same last name, but from different regions. For example, Tham is more commonly used among Hakka people, while the Tamg variant is found among the Hokkien-speaking population in southern China and Southeast Asia.

Tam is a popular Cantonese last name with a long history and deep roots in Chinese culture. It is a symbol of family, tradition, and identity for those who bear this name.

What ethnicity is the name Tam?

The name Tam is a Scottish form of the masculine given name Thomas, which has its origin in the Aramaic language. Thomas means “twin” and is believed to have been one of the most popular names in the early Christian world, being borne by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples in the New Testament. This name has inspired many variations all over the world, including Tam.

The name Tam has a strong Scottish heritage, being a popular short form of the name Thomas in Scotland. Tam is also associated with Tam O’Shanter, the hero of a famous poem by Robert Burns, who is considered Scotland’s national poet. Tam O’Shanter is a tale about a farmer who has too much to drink and imagines witches and other supernatural creatures following him home. The poem is considered one of Burns’ best works, and has helped to cement Tam as a Scottish name.

In addition to its Scottish origins, the name Tam is also used among other ethnic groups in various forms. For instance, in Vietnam, Tam is a female given name that means “three.” It is also a surname in China, where it is commonly written as 谭 or 譚 and is pronounced as “tán.” Likewise, in South Asia, the name Tam is often used as a short form of Tamil, referring to the Tamil people who are native to the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the northeastern part of Sri Lanka.

The name Tam has a strong association with Scotland, where it is a popular short form of the name Thomas. However, it also has various forms and meanings in other cultures, including the Vietnamese and various Chinese dialects. Hence, the ethnicity of the name Tam can be traced to different parts of the world, depending on the origin and context in which the name is used.

How do you know if a Chinese name is a surname?

Chinese names can be quite different from names in other cultures, and they can often be tricky to understand or decipher if you’re not familiar with them. One of the most important components of a Chinese name is the family name, which is also known as the surname. In Chinese culture, the family name is the first component of a person’s name, and it is always followed by the given name, which is the personal name chosen by the individual or their parents.

There are several key characteristics that can help you identify whether a Chinese name is a surname. The first and most obvious feature to look for is the position of the name in the full name. As mentioned, the family name always comes first, so if you see a Chinese name written with two characters, the first character is usually the family name (surname) and the second character is the given name.

Another important feature of Chinese surnames is that they are usually only one syllable or one character long. This is because Chinese names have a long history, and in the past, people with the same surname were considered part of the same family or clan. This meant that surnames needed to be distinctive, so that members of the same family could be easily identified. As a result, most Chinese surnames are short and sweet, making them easy to remember and recognize.

Finally, there are certain Chinese characters that are more commonly used as surnames than others. For example, some of the most common Chinese surnames include Zhang, Li, Wang, Chen, and Liu. These surnames are also some of the oldest and most common in Chinese culture, and they can be traced back thousands of years.

The family name (surname) is an essential component of Chinese names and it always comes before the personal name. Most Chinese surnames are only one syllable or one character long, and some characters are more commonly used as surnames than others. By paying attention to these characteristics, you can quickly and easily identify whether a Chinese name is a surname.