I was adopted from China. The Chinese name the orphanage gave me is Yuan Xiaosheng, 院小圣。 I understand that naming in China is special, so what exactly does my name mean?

院 Yuan is a rare surname; it’s estimated that only around 5,000 people share this surname in China. The surname only appeared during the Yuan Dynasty (元朝 1271–1368 CE) and its believed that it’s a result of a change in surname by a group of people whose original surname was 完 Huan/Huang/Wang (notice 院 is the character 完 with ear 阝). As a character, 院 means courtyard or institution.

小圣 Xiaosheng means little saint. 圣 also means sage, holy or sacred. It was also a respectful term used when addressing the emperor. The emperor was addressed as 圣上 (Sheng Shang), meaning Saint Above, by court officials. When an officer went to meet the emperor, it’s called 朝圣 (chao sheng) meaning approaching the emperor. In modern usage, 朝圣 means pilgrimage and is used in religious context.

Whoever gave you the name wished you a blessed life.

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