Explore the Family Name Wei

The meaning of Wei

Chinese: 1. Mandarin form of the surname 魏, a term referring to ‘the buildings at either side of the gates of the royal palace’ in ancient Chinese: (i) from Wei (魏), originally the name of a fief (located in Ruicheng in Shanxi province) granted to Bi Wan, an official in the state of Jin. In 403 BC, the state of Jin was split into three, one of which was the state of Wei (魏), established by Wei Huan Zi (魏桓子). After this state was annexed by the state of Qin in 225 BC, its name was adopted by some people as a surname. (ii) adopted in place of the surname Mi (羋) by Wei Ran (魏冉), an official who lived in the state of Qin during the Warring States period (475–221 BC). (iii) borne by descendants of Wei Liao Weng (魏了翁), a scholar during the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279 AD), who changed his original name Gao (高) to his uncle’s surname Wei (魏). 2. Mandarin form of the surname 危, meaning ‘danger’ or ‘towering’ in Chinese: (i) from the second element of the placename San Wei (三危) (located in Gansu province) to which people from an ancient state called San Miao (located in present-day Hunan, Hubei, and Jiangxi province) are said to have migrated during the reign of the legendary Emperor Shun (c.23rd century bc). (ii) borne by descendants of Wei Su (危素), a scholar during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 AD), who changed his original surname Huang to Wei (危). 3. Mandarin form of the surname 韋, meaning ‘leather’ in ancient Chinese: (i) from the second element of the placename Shi Wei (豕韋), the name of an ancient state (located in Henan province) said to have originally been granted to Yuan Zhe by Shao Kang, the sixth king of the Xia dynasty (2070–1600 BC). (ii) possibly from Wei (韋) as a title of an official in charge of the manufacture of leather goods. (iii) traced back to the Wei (韋) family in the ancient state of Shu Le (located in present-day Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region) during the Western Han dynasty (206 BC–25 AD). (iv) said to be borne by descendants of Han Xin (韓信), a revered official in the early Western Han dynasty (206 BC–25 AD), who was killed on the orders of Empress Lü (wife of Emperor Gaozu of Han). His descendants fled to southern Canton (present-day Guangdong province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region) and simplified their surname Han (韓) to Wei (韋) in order to avoid persecution. (v) borne by descendants of Huan Yan Fan, who was endowed with the surname Wei (韋) by Emperor Zhongzong of Tang (656–710 AD) as a token of appreciation. 4. Mandarin form of the surname 衛, meaning ‘defend, guard’ in Chinese: (i) from Wei/Wey (衛), the name of a state (located in Henan province) granted to Kang Shu, also known as Wey Kang Shu (衛康叔, Kang Shu of Wey), the 9th son of King Wen of Zhou (1152–1056 BC). After it was annexed by the state of Qin during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC), it was adopted as the surname by its original inhabitants. (ii) traced back to the Wei (衛) family from the Xianbei ethnic group in northern China. 5. Mandarin form of the surname 位, meaning ‘position’ in Chinese: said to be traced back to Wei Shi (位侍), the name of a king of Yutian (also known as Kingdom of Khotan, an ancient Buddhist kingdom located in present-day Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region). 6. Mandarin form of the surname 尉 (also pronounced as Yu in Mandarin, see Yu 12), the name of the official title of prison wardens in ancient China, said to be borne by the descendants of prison wardens in ancient China. 7. Mandarin form of the surname 隗 (also pronounced as Kui in Mandarin): (i) a surname from the state of Di (possibly located in Shanxi province) during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). (ii) a surname from the Tangut ethnic group in ancient northwestern China. Some characteristic forenames: Chinese Ming, Wei, Li, Chao, Hong, Cheng, Jin, Ling, Ping, Yuan, Bin, Dong, Lan, Min, Chang, Chong, Chung, Houa, Pai, Sha, Yiming.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Wei in the United States?

According to the Decennial U.S. Census, the surname Wei has seen a significant increase in popularity in the United States over the past decade. In 2000, it was the 5310th most popular surname, but by 2010, it had risen to the 3707th spot—an increase of more than 30%. The number of people with this surname also grew from 6037 to 9578 between these years, representing an impressive growth rate of nearly 59%. For every 100,000 residents in the US, the proportion of individuals named Wei increased by 45%, from 2.24 to 3.25.

Proportion per 100k2.243.2545.09%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Wei

In terms of ethnic identity, the majority of people bearing the surname Wei are of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, based on the data from the Decennial U.S. Census. In 2000, 93.27% of individuals with this surname identified as Asian/Pacific Islander, and this percentage slightly increased to 94.46% by 2010. Over the same period, the proportion identifying as White fell from 3.69% to 2.89%, while those identifying as Hispanic saw a decrease from 0.50% to 0.44%. Interestingly, the data shows that some individuals with the Wei surname started identifying as Black in 2010, when previously there were none recorded in 2000. There was no change in the percentage identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native.

Asian/Pacific Islander93.27%94.46%1.28%
Two or More Races2.07%1.8%-13.04%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0%0%0%

Wei ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Wei is Chinese, which comprises 85.8% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are Korean (3.0%) and Manchurian & Mongolian (2.6%). Additional ancestries include Chinese Dai, British & Irish, French & German, Vietnamese, and Japanese.

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Manchurian & Mongolian2.6%

Possible origins of the surname Wei

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Wei have recent ancestry locations in China and Taiwan.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Zhejiang, China35.10%
Guangdong, China35.10%
Jiangsu, China34.60%
Fujian, China34.60%
Shandong, China34.60%

What Wei haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Wei is O-F8, which is predominantly found among people with East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry. Haplogroup O-F8 is descended from haplogroup O-M1359. Other common haplogroups include O-F46 and O-F11, which are predominantly found among people with East Asian & Indigenous American and East Asian & Indigenous American ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Zhu, Wang, Li, Sun, Zhang, Xu, Zhao, Tang, Wu, Lu.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Wei surname are: F2, A4, M7b. These most commonly trace back to individuals of East Asian & Indigenous American and European ancestry.

weiPaternal Haplogroup Origins O-M1359
Paternal Haplo Image

Your paternal lineage may be linked to the Han Chinese

Haplogroup O-Page23 has been found in several populations of the Han Chinese ethnic group. The ancestors of the Han, called the Huaxia, lived in the upriver basin of the Yellow River 5,000-6,000 years ago. As agricultural technology improved, the Huaxia spread east and south, and became the Han Chinese. Over the last 2,000 years, there have been three major migrations of the Han southward. The first of these migrations occurred during the Jin Dynasty from 317 to 420 CE, when nearly one million people moved south. A second migration occurred during the Tang Dynasty, after the An-Shi Rebellion, between 755 and 762 CE. The last migration occurred during the Southern Song Dynasty, from 1127 to 1297 CE, when nearly 5 million people migrated southward. The Pinghua, a branch of Han in which haplogroup O2a2b1a1 is particularly common, may be descendants of indigenous minority groups that adopted Han culture during one such major migration event.

Your maternal lineage may be linked to the builders of the Terracotta Army

Qin Shi Huang, who unified warring states to become the First Emperor of China and founded the Qin Dynasty, ruled the Chinese state of Qin from 247 BC to 210 BC. In addition to his political feats, his reign is known for the massive construction projects, including his mausoleum in the Shaanxi province of central China, which began construction in 246 BC. To aid him in the afterlife, 8,000 perfectly life-like soldiers were crafted out of molds and clay and placed at guard over his tomb: his own Terracotta Army.An estimated 700,000 workers were involved in the mausoleum construction alone, and in 2003, hundreds of skeletal remains were unearthed near the mausoleum. Curious about the ethnic origins of these men, a group of Chinese scientists decided to examine their maternal haplogroups. They found that some of these workers belonged to haplogroup A, and that the group had come from a variety of places across East Asia.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Wei have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Wei" Surname 20.9%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Wei" Surname 27.3%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Wei" Surname 20.3%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Wei" Surname 6.4%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Wei?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Wei are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease

ε4 variant

Alzheimer's disease is characterized by memory loss, cognitive decline, and personality changes. Late-onset Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of Alzheimer's disease, developing after age 65. Many factors, including genetics, can influence a person's chances of developing the condition. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the most common genetic variant associated with late-onset Alzheimer's disease: the ε4 variant in the APOE gene. Learn more about Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease

Chinese 18.2%

23andMe Users 25.5%