Generation Name (輩字)
The Generation Name is called by a number of terms in Chinese, like:
A clan will normally have a record of its Generation Names, commonly called in English a Generation Poem and known variously in Chinese as:
When a Generation Name (輩字) is appended with an adult name, this combination is referred to as a Style Name or Courtesy Name (字) and some people mistakenly call this a Hao (號) which is something different.
Here is an example of a Generation Poem showing names for 16 generations:
What about the case of those people with only two character names, do they not have a Generation Name? No not at all. Normally the Generation Name can form a part of the complex character personal name, e.g. a character like Bo (波) may inclusively depict a Generation Name for Shui (水) (water) as represented by the three dots in the radical for water. The presence and use of Generation Names can therefore help unravel the hierarchy of the generations within a family clan.
One tragic consequence of China’s one child policy was the disappearance of the Generation Name resulting in names with only a family name and a personal name.