Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 林 meaning ‘woods forest’: (i) from the placename Chang Lin (長林) where Jian son of Bi Gan took refuge after his father was killed by Zhou last king of the Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC). After the Shang dynasty was overthrown he was endowed with the surname Lin (林) by King Wu of Zhou (c. 1087–1043 BC). (ii) from the first element of the personal name Lin Kai (林開) son of King Ping of Zhou (died 720 BC). (iii) from the personal name of Lin Fang (林放) an official in the state of Lu also a student of Confucius (551–479 BC) during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). (iv) adopted by the Qiu Lin (丘林) family as a surname during the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534 AD). (v) from the personal name of Lin Fu (林父) personal name of an official in the state of Wey during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC) whose original surname was Sun. (vi) from the placename Lin (林) the name of a fief granted to an official in the state of Ju during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 藺 meaning ‘rush (a type of plant)’ in ancient Chinese: from the placename Lin (藺) the name of a fief (located in Shaanxi province or in Shanxi province) granted to Kang who lived during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). He was descended from the Han family in the state of Jin but later went to the state of Zhao to seek an official post. Chinese: Cantonese form of the surnames 連 and 練 see Lian 2 and Chinese: variant Romanization of the surname 凌 see Ling Burmese: from a personal name usually forming part of a compound name from lin ‘bright clear’. Compare Lyn — Note: Since Burmese do not have hereditary surnames this name was registered as such only after immigration of its bearers to the US. Cambodian: written លិន of Chinese origin but unexplained etymology (probably corresponding to one of the surnames above). Compare Lyn 7: Scottish and English: variant of Lynn and possibly also Flynn .
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022