Gao (surname)

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Stroke order of the Gao surname
Pronunciation Gāo (Pinyin)
Ko (Pe̍h-ōe-jī)
Gou1 (Jyutping)
Language(s) Chinese
Language(s) Old Chinese
Meaning high, tall
Other names
Variant(s) Gao, Kao (Mandarin)
Ko, Kou (Cantonese, Hokkien)
Derivative(s) Cao, Ko

Gao (Chinese: ) is an East Asian surname of Chinese origin that can be literally translated as "high" or "tall". There are approximately 16 million living people with this surname. Some places, such as Taiwan, usually romanise this family name into Kao. In Hong Kong, it is romanized to Ko. In Macau, it is romanized to Kou.

Romanisation and pronunciation

Dialect or Format Transliteration or Pronunciation
Mandarin Gāo (Hanyu pinyin); Kao1 (Wade-Giles)
Cantonese Gou1 (Jyutping)
Minnan Ko (Peh-oe-ji)
Vietnamese Cao
Korean Ko (McCune–Reischauer), Go (Revised Romanization)


According to Lüshi Chunqiu, the earliest figure with the Gao surname was Gao Yuan (高元) who created dwellings in antiquity.[1] The grandson of the Yellow Emperor Zhuanxu was also known as Gao Yang (高陽).

Another origin of Gao is the Jiang (姜) surname. According to the Song dynasty encyclopedia Tongzhi, an early ancestor was Gao Xi (高傒) who was granted the surname Gao in honour of his grandfather Prince Gao (公子高).[2] Prince Gao was the son of Duke Wen of the state of Qi whose ancestral name was Jiang (姜).[3]

Many non-Han Chinese used the surname Gao:

  • The Xianbei clan of Lou (楼) of the Northern Wei period later changed their surname to Gao. The Yuan (元) family also adopted this surname in this period
  • (徐) family of the Northern Qi period
  • Baipu (百濮) people of Yunnan (雲南)

Notable people






  1. 《呂氏春秋·勿躬篇》 Original text: 高元作室。
  2. Tongzhi: 《通志·氏族略》 记载,春秋时,齐国公子高的孙子,开始以“高”为氏,称高。
  3. Fu Chinjiang (2007). Origins of Chinese Names. Asiapac Books. p. 58. ISBN 978-9812294623.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links