Meaning and Origin of: Guan

Family name origins & meanings

  • Chinese : from a character meaning ‘mountain pass’ or ‘guarded passage’. This formed part of the title of an official in charge of guarding strategic passes. Descendants of one such official are known to have adopted the character as their surname. Another source is Guan Longfeng, a senior official during the Xia dynasty (2205–1766 bc).
  • Chinese : from the name of the short-lived state of Guan created when the Zhou dynasty was established in 1122 bc. The third son of Wen Wang, Guan Shu, was granted this state. He soon betrayed his family’s trust, however, by allying himself, along with two of his brothers, with the descendants of the Shang dynasty that the Zhou had just displaced. This rebellion was put down and Guan Shu was killed. His clan dispersed, but some descendants later adopted the name Guan as their surname. The character for this name also means ‘tube’ or ‘pipe’ and ‘manage’.