Norwegian: habitational name from any of numerous farmsteads in Trøndelag named with the definite plural form of Li 1 Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 連 meaning ‘link connect’ in Chinese: (i) from the first element of the personal name Lian Cheng (連稱) an official in the state of Qi (located in present-day Shandong province) during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). (ii) from the second element of the personal name Hui Lian (惠連) the third son of Lu Zhong a descendant of the legendary Huang Di the ‘Yellow Emperor’ (c. 27th century BC). (iii) from the first element of Lian Yin (連尹) and Lian Ao (連敖) names of two official posts in the state of Chu during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). (iv) traced back to the Lian (連) family members of the Xianbei ethnic group in northern China; possibly a shortened form of the Xianbei surname He Lian (赫連). It was also adopted as a surname during the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534 AD) by two other Xianbei families Shi Lian (是連) and Tai Lian (太連). Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 練 meaning ‘white silk’ or ‘skilled’ in ancient Chinese: (i) from the first element of the placename Lian Xiang (練鄉) the name of a fief (located in present-day Fujian province) in the state of Min a small state during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907–960 AD). (ii) from the personal name of Lian Xiang (練何) who was a general with the original surname Dong (東) during the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD) but later endowed with the surname Lian (練) (meaning ‘skilful experienced’) because he was highly skilled in military training. Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 廉 which meant (among other things) ‘inspecting or investigating’ in ancient Chinese: (i) from the second element of the personal name Da Lian (大廉) style name of the great-grandson of the legendary king Zhuanxu (traditional dates: 2514–2437 BC). (ii) adopted as a surname by Lian Xi Xian (廉希憲) because his father Bu Lu Hai Ya a Uygur had been appointed to an official post called Lian Shi (廉使) during the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368 AD). One of the ancient meanings of Lian (廉) is ‘inspecting or investigating’; inspectors with this title were charged with examining the social order and maintaining stability; also investigating charges of corruption against local government officials. Chinese: variant Romanization of the surname 梁 see Liang Burmese (Chin): from a part of a male compound personal name from lian ‘(to become) great’. — Note: Since Chins do not have hereditary surnames this name element was registered as such only after immigration of its bearers to the US.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022