Meanings & Facts Of Most Common Singapore Surnames in Singapore & Malaysia


Last Updated on 2023-06-23 , 12:00 pm

An individual’s surname can often tell a fascinating tale of heritage and lineage. Such is the case with Singaporean surnames.

As it turns out, the most common Singapore surnames have intriguing backstories and meanings that connect them to a rich tapestry of history.

Among these Singaporean last names, some are more prevalent than others.

Singapore Last Names: The Most Common on the List

Research has unveiled that the top ten most frequently occurring Singaporean surnames, listed in sequence, are Tan, Lim, Lee, Ng, Ong, Wong, Goh, Chua, Chan, and Koh.

We can hypothesize that the statistics for Malaysian Chinese surnames might be quite akin, given their shared cultural and historical backgrounds.

As we delve deeper, let’s unravel the origin and meaning of the top five Singapore male names and surnames.


Unveiling the Most Common Surnames in Singapore

Tan 陈

When we explore the world of Singaporean surnames, the Tan surname comes out on top.

This last name finds its roots in the State of Tan, an ancient province that disappeared over 2,500 years ago.

Today, the terrain where the State of Tan once stood is part of China’s Shandong Province.

Lim 林

Another popular surname in Singapore is Lim, tracing its history back over 3,000 years. It’s fascinating to learn that Lim translates to “forest” in Chinese.

The surname Lim is in the same lineage as Lin and Lam.

However, the moniker “Lim” is predominantly used in Singapore and Malaysia as it aligns with the pronunciation of their local dialects – “Lim” for Hokkien and “Lam” for Cantonese.

Lee 李

Lee, or as it’s also known, Li, is the second most widespread surname in China.

This surname carries an interesting tale that someone managed to survive by eating only plums for an extended period.

As a result, they decided to change their surname to “Lee,” which signifies “plum” or “plum tree” in Chinese.

Ng 黄

This two-letter surname, Ng, holds its place as one of the shortest surnames globally. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Predominantly, people of the Cantonese or Hakka dialect carry this surname. The Hokkien variation of Ng is “Wu,” which translates to “five.”

Ong 王

Singaporean surnames bring a multitude of tales, and Ong is no different.

This surname has so many origin stories that it’s hard to pick just one!

But for this context, let’s concentrate on one fact: it’s considered the most common Chinese surname worldwide. Although it’s more known as Wang, the names Ong and Wang share the same Chinese character, 王.


A Fun Aside

Ever came across a surname, Chim? No? Well, Chim means 深 in Chinese, and that’s your trivia for the day!

A Dive into Singaporean Surnames

Armed with your newfound knowledge of Singaporean last names and surnames, you’re well equipped to go out and dazzle your friends with these intriguing facts.

From historical roots to interesting meanings, surnames in Singapore are indeed rich in cultural significance.

Now that you’ve glimpsed this fascinating world, you’ll probably see Singaporean surnames in a new light.

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