Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 白 meaning ‘white’ in Chinese: (i) from the first element of the personal name Bai Yi (白乙) style name of Bai Yi Bing (白乙丙) an official in the state of Qin during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). (ii) from the personal name Bai (白) the name of a son of Duke Wen of Qin(the 17th ruler of the state of Qin died 716 BC). (iii) said to be borne by descendants of Bai Fu (白阜) an official during the reign of the legendary Yan Di the ‘Yan Emperor’. (iv) said to be borne by descendants of a legendary king Bai Xu Shi (白胥氏) who lived prior to the Xia dynasty (2070–1600 BC). (v) from the placename Bai (白) the name of a fief (located in Henan province) that was granted to Sheng (also known as Bai Gong Sheng (白公勝) or Duke of Bai) son of King Hui of Chu (died 432 BC). (vi) from the placename Bai Zhou (白州) (located in Bobai in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region) during the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD). (vii) traced back to several minority ethnic groups in ancient China. Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 柏 meaning ‘cypress’ in Chinese: (i) said to be borne by descendants of the legendary king Bai Huang Shi (柏皇氏) who lived prior to the Xia dynasty (2070–1600 BC). (ii) from Bai (柏) the name of an ancient state (located in Henan province) during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). After it was annexed by the state of Chu the name of the state was adopted as a surname. Korean: variant of Pae . Vietnamese: unexplained.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press