Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 金 meaning ‘gold’ in Chinese: (i) from Jin Tian (金天) title of the legendary king Shao Hao (c. 26th century BC) the son of the legendary Huang Di the ‘Yellow Emperor’ (c. 27th century BC). Some of his descendants inherited 金 part of his title as their surname. (ii) from Jin Midi (金日磾) (134–86 BC) a prince of King Xiu Tu of the Huns who was captured as a child and brought up at the Han imperial court. He became an official highly regarded by Emperor Wu of Han (156–87 BC) and was appointed as master of the imperial stables. He made golden statues of horses to worship Heaven and because of this was given the surname Jin 金 (meaning ‘gold’) by the emperor. (iii) for some families the surname is traced back to the Liu (劉 see Lau) family living in the state of Wu Yue (907–978 AD located in present-day Zhejiang Jiangsu and Fujian provinces) who changed their original surname 劉 to 金 because the former was pronounced the same as the personal name of the emperor Qian Liu (founder of the Wuyue Kingdom 852–932 AD) and it was taboo in ancient China to bear a name that was borne by the emperor. (iv) for some families the surname is traced back to the minority ethnic groups of Qiangzu and Xinluo in northern China during the Southern and Northern dynasties (420–589 AD). Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 靳 meaning ‘stingy’ in ancient Chinese: (i) from the placename Jin (靳) the name of a fief (located in Ningxiang in Hunan province) granted to Jin Shang (靳尚) (died 311 BC) a noble official in the state of Chu during the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC). (ii) for some families the surname can be traced back to the Huns in northern China recorded in ancient Chinese history books. Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 晉 meaning ‘enter’ or ‘promote’ in ancient Chinese: from Jin (晉) the name of a state (located mainly in present-day Shanxi province) originally granted to Tang Shu Yu (Shu Yu of Tang) the third son of King Wu of Zhou (c. 1087–1043 BC). In 403 BC the state was partitioned into three new states by Marquis Wen of Wei (died 396 BC) Marquis Jing of Han (died 400 BC) and Marquis Lie of Zhao (died 400 BC). Descendants of the Duke Jing of Jin (possibly died 349 BC) the last ruler of the state of Jin inherited 晉 the name of the original state as their surname. Chinese: Hokkien or Taiwanese Romanization of the surname 甄 see Zhen . Korean: variant of Jin Japanese: written 陣 ‘ranks’ or ‘battle array’. It is not common in Japan.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press