Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 王 meaning ‘king’ or ‘royal’: (i) in some families the surname is traced back to Crown Prince Jin son of King Ling of Zhou (died 545 BC) of the Eastern Zhou dynasty. Jin incurred his father's displeasure (for criticizing plans to divert the Gu and Luo rivers) and was disinherited. His descendants adopted the surname Wang (王) in commemoration of his royal status. (ii) in other cases the name is traced back to Tian He (died around 384 BC) who usurped the throne of the state of Qi in 391 BC. After the annihilation of Qi by the state of Qin in 221 BC some descendants of nobles of Qi adopted the surname Wang (王) in memory of the royal status of their ancestors. (iii) the surname is also borne by descendants of royal families in certain other states for example Wei during the Warring States Period (475–221 BC). (iv) in other families the surname is traced back to Bi Gan who was murdered by his nephew Zhou last king of the Shan dynasty (1600–1046 BC). Descendants of Bi Gan also adopted the surname Wang (王). (v) the surname has also been adopted by some families of minority ethnic groups for example the Ke Yi (可頤) families of the Xianbei ethnic group. (vi) in some families this surname is traced back to ancestors who either were endowed with it by an emperor or changed their original surname claiming royal status. Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 汪 a word applied to water and meaning both ‘deep’ and ‘puddle’ in ancient Chinese: (i) shortened form of Wang Mang (汪芒) also called Wang Wang (汪罔) the name of a state in present-day Wukang in Zhejiang province. After the extinction of this state at an uncertain date its inhabitants fled to other places and the surname was shortened to Wang (汪). (ii) for some families the surname is traced back to the royal family of the state of Lu (1024 BC–256 BC) during the Warring States Period. The 21st ruler of the state of Lu the Duke Cheng of Lu endowed one of his sons (Man) with lands in Wang (in present-day Shandong province) where they adopted the surname Wang. (iii) from the name of Wang Chuxiu (汪處休). In the earlier Song Dynasty (960–1127 AD) in Quanzhou in Fujian province Weng Qiandu had six sons and gave different surnames to each of them. His sixth son Weng Chuxiu was given the surname Wang. He and his brothers all became important officials known as ‘the Six Laureates’. Chinese: variant Romanization of the surname 黃 see Huang Chinese: Cantonese form of the surname 弘 see Hong Chinese: variant Romanization of the surname 袁 possibly based on its Teochew or Hakka pronunciations see Yuan Korean: written 왕 in Chinese characters 王 meaning ‘king’. This is the only Chinese character for the surname Wang. Some sources indicate that there are fifteen Wang clans but only two can be identified: the Kaesŏng Wang clan and the Chenam Wang clan. The Kaesŏng Wang clan which originated in China ruled the Korean peninsula for almost five hundred years as the ruling dynasty of the Koryŏ period (918–1392). There are some indications that the Kaesŏng Wang clan was present in the ancient Chosŏn Kingdom (c. 194 BC). When the Chŏnju Yi clan seized power in 1392 and established the Chosŏn kingdom many of the members of the Kaesŏng Wang clan changed their names and went into hiding to avoid being persecuted by the new ruling dynasty. The Chenam Wang clan is also of Chinese origin. The Chenam Wang clan is much smaller than the Kaesŏng Wang clan.7: Southeast Asian (Hmong): variant of Vang 8: German and Dutch: from Middle German wang Middle Dutch waenge literally ‘cheek’ but also in southern German having the transferred sense ‘grassy slope’ or ‘field of grass’. It was thus either a topographic name for someone who lived on sloping grassland or a descriptive nickname for someone with noticeable cheeks (for example round or rosy).9: Jewish (Ashkenazic): either a borrowing of the German name (see 8 above) or else a habitational name for a Jew from Hungary (compare Russian Vengria ‘Hungary’).10: Norwegian and Danish; Swedish (Wång): variant of Vang 3 or Vång (see Vang ).
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022