Cao (Chinese surname)

Romanisation Cao
Word/name Zhuanxu Emperor (legendary)
  1. plaintiff and defendant
  2. fodder
  3. division department of the central government in ancient times
  4. official
  5. group, team

Cao is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname (Cáo). It is listed 26th in the Song-era Hundred Family Surnames poem.

Cao is romanized as Ts'ao in Wade-Giles, although the apostrophe is often omitted in practice. It is romanized Cho, Tso, and Chaw in Cantonese; Chou, Chô, and Chháu in Min Nan; and Chau, Chow in Teochew.

The Vietnamese surname based on it is now written Tào.

Distribution [ edit ]

Cao is the 30th-most-common surname in mainland China as of 2019[1] and the 58th-most-common surname on Taiwan.

In the United States, the romanization Cao is a fairly common surname, ranked 7,425th during the 1990 census but 2,986th during the year 2000 census.[2] It is one of the few Chinese surnames whose pinyin transcription is already more common than other variants. The Wade transcription Tsao was only ranked 16,306th during the 1990 census and 12,580th during the year 2000 one. The Cantonese transcription is actually becoming less common, falling from 7,638th place to 9,925th.[2] The Korean name Cho is more common still than Cao, befitting its frequency in Korea itself, where it makes up about 2% of the South Korean population: see Cho (Korean name).

History [ edit ]

Cáo's former pronunciations have been reconstructed as *N-tsˤu in Old Chinese and Dzaw in Middle Chinese.[3] It originated from the Zhou-era Duchy of Cao founded by Ji Zhenduo. He was later claimed to have descended from the Yellow Emperor via the Zhuanxu Emperor and – in some accounts – via the Shun Emperor as well.[4][5][6] It was the origin of the modern Cāo and Zhu families.

  • Another origin is that it is derived from the first element of the personal name of Cao An the founder of the state of Zhu, later named Zou, and located in modern Zouxian, Shandong. After the state was annexed by Chu during the Spring and Autumn period Cao (曹) was adopted as a surname by its former subjects.[7]
  • from the name of a state (located in Dingtao in Shandong province) granted to Zhenduo, the thirteenth son of the virtuous King Wen of Zhou. After the state was annexed by Song, Cao (曹) was adopted as a surname.
  • from one of the "Nine Sogdian Surnames", also known as ‘nine surnames of Zhaowu’, because their ancestors came from Zhaowu, an ancient city in present-day Gansu. During the Sui and Tang dynasties there were nine Sogdian states in Central Asia, one of which was called Cao. At this time, descendants of people from the state of Cao acquired the name as a surname.

Other surnames [ edit ]

Cao can also serve as the romanization for the Chinese surnames Cāo () and Cǎo () as well; however, they are not nearly so common. They were both unlisted among the Hundred Family Surnames and do not appear among any list of the current popular surnames.

Cāo was likely *tsʰˤawʔ in Old Chinese and TshawX in Middle Chinese; its original meaning was "grasp".[3] It originated from the given name of one of Cao Cao's descendants after the establishment of Cao Wei. Its modern use as a curse word depends on a recent homophone and is unrelated to the surname.

Cǎo was likely *tsʰˤuʔ in Old Chinese, but had become a homophonous TshawX by Middle Chinese; its meaning is still "grass" and similar plants.[3]

List of people with the surname [ edit ]

Historical figures [ edit ]

Modern figures [ edit ]

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b US Census Bureau. Op. cit. Public Broadcasting Service. "How Popular Is Your Last Name?" Accessed 6 Apr 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Baxter, Wm. H. & Sagart, Laurent. "Baxter–Sagart Old Chinese Reconstruction". Archived from the original on September 27, 2013.  (1.93 MB). 2011. Accessed 11 October 2011.
  4. ^ Goodman, Howard L. Ts'ao P'i Transcendent: the Political Culture of Dynasty-Founding in China at the End of the Han, p. 70. Psychology Press (1998). ISBN 0966630009. Accessed 1 Apr 2012.
  5. ^ House Of Chinn. "History of Chen". 2012. Accessed 11 Apr 2012.
  6. ^ This account was disputed by Chiang Chi, who claimed it was the Tian () who descended from Shun and not the Cao.
  7. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland
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