O (surname)

This article is about the surname. For other uses, see O (disambiguation).
Revised Romanization O
McCune–Reischauer O

O or Oh is a romanization of a number of East Asian surnames.


O (Hangul: ) is the Korean form of the Chinese surname Wu (Hanja: ).

The name originates from the ancient state of Wu in present-day province of Jiangsu. Wu (吳, 오, "Oh" or "O" romanization) is the sixth name listed in the Song Dynasty classic Hundred Family Surnames.

In the 13th century B.C., the state of Zhou (which will later become the Zhou Dynasty) was ruled by Tai Wang (King Tai of Zhou). His surname was originally Ji (姬). He had three sons: Taibo, Zhongyong, and Jili. King Tai of Zhou favored the youngest son, Jili to inherit the reins of power, therefore Taibo and his brother Zhongyong voluntarily left Zhou with a group of followers and headed southeast where they established the state of Wu. Taibo and Zhongyong's descendants eventually adopted Wu (吳) as their surname.[1][2] The state of Wu, which later claimed to be a kingdom of its own, was best known for its military prowess as Sun Tzu, the author of the famed book The Art of War, was the country's general serving under King Helü of Wu. King Helu is considered to be one of the Five Hegemons of China during the Spring and Autumn period.

One of their descendants named Wu Ch'om migrated to Korea from China during the reign of Shilla's King Jijeung (500-514 AD), and is the ancestor of all 16 Korean "Oh" clans.[3]

Taibo and Zhongyong's youngest brother Jili stayed to rule the Zhou state and was the grandfather of Wu Wang (King Wu of Zhou) who started the Zhou Dynasty after successfully overthrowing the Shang Dynasty. The descendants of Wu Wang eventually changed their surname from Ji (姬) to Zhou (周) during the Qin Dynasty to commemorate the merits and virtues of their ancestors.

Therefore, the last names Wu (吳, 오 "Oh" in Korean), Zhou (周,"Chou"), and Ji (姬, Chi) are historically related.[4][5]


Ō (Hiragana: おう, わう) is the Japanese form of the Chinese surname Wang (Kanji: ). Most Japanese with this surname are ethnic Chinese.


During both the 1990 and year 2000 US Censuses, fewer than 100 people in the United States had the name O, but Oh was ranked as the 3,508th most common surname in 1990 and the 2,477th most common surname in 2000.[6] Using a single-letter surname may cause various bureaucratic and social difficulties, as many computer programs cannot deal with such names because they are designed to require a minimum of two or three letters, while people may assume that a single letter is only an abbreviation rather than the complete surname; in 1991, The New York Times wrote an article about one Korean American man surnamed O who ended up changing the spelling of his name to Oh to get around these problems.[7]

List of persons with the surname



See also


  1. "Wu Name Meaning & Wu Family History at". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  2. "People's Daily Online - History of Chinese surname Wu". English.peopledaily.com.cn. 2005-06-21. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  3. "Oh: Name Origins and Name Meanings, What Does My Name Mean". Genealogy.familyeducation.com. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  4. "People's Daily Online - Chinese Zhou surname history". English.people.com.cn. 2005-06-17. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  5. "Oh Name Meaning & Oh Family History at". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  6. US Census Bureau. Op. cit. Public Broadcasting Service. "How Popular Is Your Last Name?" Accessed 6 Apr 2012.
  7. "Why, O Why, Doesn't That Name Compute?". The New York Times. 1991-08-28. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
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