What does this Chinese expression mean

Chinese Lucky Numbers - The LTL Guide

Which numbers are considered Chinese lucky numbers?

numbers play an important role in many cultures and are often of high symbolic importance.

In Chinese culture there are numerous lucky and unlucky numbers that also play a major role in everyday life.

So “good” numbers like 6 and 8 can be found in telephone numbers, addresses and license plates. Unlucky numbers, on the other hand, are strictly avoided. For example, many buildings in China do not have a fourth floor because 4 is an unlucky number! In this blog you can find out everything about Chinese lucky numbers:

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NINE - 九 Jiŭ

Many of the properties attributed to the Chinese lucky numbers come from the fact that the pronunciation of these numbers resembles that of another positive thing.

This is also the case with the number 9: The pronunciation sounds exactly the same as the Chinese word for “eternal, long-lasting”, 久. The pinyin and thus the pronunciation for 久 and are “jiŭ”.

This is the reason why the number 9 is popular on birthdays and weddings, according to popular belief it promises a long, fulfilling life or a happy marriage.

The number 9 also appears in other situations:

  • Since the 9 stands for eternity, 99, 999 or 9999 roses are often given away, which symbolize eternal love
  • The number 9 had an important meaning during the imperial era. Nine dragons were seen on the traditional garb of the Chinese emperor, and officials were organized into nine tiers
  • The Forbidden City supposedly did 9999.5 rooms

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EIGHT - 八 bā

As the most popular lucky number, the number 8 has an important meaning in China!

The Chinese character for “eight”, 八, is pronounced bā. Since this sound is very similar to the pronunciation for 發 fā (“flourish, be successful, get ahead”), 8 is considered an absolute lucky number.

Many Chinese are willing to pay more money to get a license plate or phone number that includes as many eights as possible!

Here are a few facts about the 8 and their popularity:

  • The Chinese phone number+86 28 8888 8888 was sold to Sichaun Airlines for over CNY 2,000,000
  • The opening event for the 2008 Beijing Olympics began on exactly
  • The prices in many Chinese restaurants and shops end with an 8. On the one hand, this is psychologically justified, since prices seem so cheaper (in Europe, however, the 9 is used). Instead of € 5, something is sold for € 4.99, or € 4.98 in China. On the other hand, 8 is chosen in China because it has a positive meaning for Chinese customers
  • Many international airlines use the number 8 in their flight numbers for their flights to China or from China to other countries:
    • Air Astana - Beijing to Almaty: flight number KC888.
    • British Airways - Chengdu to London: BA88.
    • Etihad Airways - Abu Dhabi to Beijing (then to Nagoya): EY888.
  • 48 – This applies to every three-digit number, the last two digits of which are 4 and 8. The pronunciation of these two numbers is similar to the Chinese translation, "rich for ... life". For example, if the actual number is 748 (qī sì bā), it sounds like qī shì fā (七世 發). That would then mean "rich for seven lives" and is seen as very positive.

There's more…

08/08/2008 was celebrated in China. On the one hand, the Olympic Games in Beijing opened on that day.

In addition, many Chinese couples tied the knot on this symbolic day. Since there were many eights in the date, the date promised a happy marriage.

Some couples even went so far that they had exactly 8 bridesmaids, had an eight-course meal served or started the dance at 8:08 pm! If you want to read more about this incredible day, please visit the NBC website for more information.

SIX - 六 Liù

In the west, the number 6 has a rather negative meaning. The number 666 is a symbol for the devil.

It's very different in China. In China, the six has a similarly positive meaning as the 8 and the 9.

The pronunciation of the number 6 in Chinese is similar to the words for “flow” (liú, 流) and “smooth, calm” (liū, 溜). So when the number 6 occurs, it is safe to assume that everything will work out without a hitch!

If several sixes are now combined with each other, this is considered particularly promising.

66, 666 or 6666 are popular numbers again when you want to give something away. Whether 66 roses or € 666, these gifts will be well received in China!

A Chinese motorcycle dealer in Zēngchéng, Guangdong paid CNY 272,000 ($ 34,000 US) for the AW6666 license plate!

In Chinese youth language, the expression 666 (六六六) is used to express admiration for something. There is also a Chinese Chengyu (六 六大 顺, liù liù dà shùn), in which the number 6 occurs. This is to say that everything is going smoothly.

It is also a tradition that a man who wants to marry his partner confirms this intention with a “small” gift. A red envelope (Hong bao) with 6,666 CNY or 66,6666 CNY is popular. But watch out, 666 CNY is usually considered too low an amount!

Lucky numbers in China - combinations and theirimportance

Now you already know why the numbers 6, 8 and 9 are considered lucky charms.

In addition to these single-digit numbers, there are also numerous number combinations that also have a symbolic meaning!

Here are two important ones:

  • 520 (五 二零, wǔ èr líng) - This abbreviation is often found in the Chinese Internet language and is used by couples when they message each other on WeChat. You wonder why “I love you” means 我 爱 你 (wǒ ài nǐ) in Chinese. And once again it's about the pronunciation ... the pinyin for “I love you” is similar to the pinyin of the number 520. In order not to have to spell out 我 爱 你 while chatting, simply abbreviate the whole thing with 520!
  • 1314 (一 三 一 四, yī sān yī sì) - This sequence of numbers has something to do with 520. 1314 sounds very similar to 一生一世 (yī shēng yī shì). The direct translation of this is "one life, one world". In connection with 520, the meaning of the number 5201314 in Chinese would be roughly: “I love you forever”.

Chinese culture - pass with theGifts on!

In Chinese culture, there are some unwritten rules that you should better follow when giving gifts in China. Gifts that are somehow related to the lucky numbers 6, 8 and 9 are particularly popular. For example, giving a friend an envelope with CNY 666 will be interpreted as a very good sign.

Of course, there are also a few unlucky Chinese numbers that you should absolutely avoid when giving gifts, otherwise you may offend your Chinese counterpart. You can find out which numbers these are in our next blog!

Gifts in China - what do I have to consider?

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CHINESE NUMBERS - You want to know more about the Chinese numbers from 1 to 100? Or do you want to know how to say your birthday and your mobile phone number in Chinese? Then our blog about Chinese numbers is definitely for you!

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Written by

Moritz Viering

Moritz has worked for LTL as a German freelancer since 2019. He enjoys exploring the world and diving into foreign cultures. Especially traditional Chinese characters, which have always fascinated him.