A modern Chinese usually has a surname (“family name”）or xing and a given name (“first name” or “Christian name”），or ming（or mingzi），always in that order.
Thus Deng Xiaoping is Mr. Deng with the personal name Xiaoping the same way John Jones is Mr. Jones with the personal name John.
In ancient China, however，naming was very complicated and one person usually had several names, and naming involved xing, shi, ming, and zi.
Each of these four words meant a different thing.
Xing and shi together formed today's surname, and ming and zi today’s given name.
Today, people use xingshi to refer to a person’s surname，mingzi to refer to one's given name.
Study of ancient Chinese documents shows that xing originally referred to the names of different matriarchal tribes.
It also had something to do with the place where people lived.
Researches show that xing came into being during the matrilin-eal society period, i. e. , around four to five thousand years ago.
Nearly always the family name (surname) is one-syllable long.The only common modern surnames that are two-syllables long are ouyang and sima.