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Lucky Number 8 in Chinese: Character, Pronunciation, Hand Sign

The number 8 holds a special place in Chinese culture. Known as “ba” in Mandarin, the number 8 in Chinese culture perplexes with its bursting significance rooted in the past yet still relevant today. In Chinese, “ba” sounds similar to the word for “fortune,” “fa.” This phonetic similarity imbues the number with a mystique and symbolism tied to prosperity and success. WuKong Chinese will introduce you to the Chinese translation of the number 8, its lucky symbol, history and significance.

Part1. Lucky Number 8 in Chinese Pronunciation and Hand Sign

8 in chinese

Modern Chinese internet slang showcases the number 8’s enduring linguistic appeal. The number 528 resembles the phrase “我要发” (wǒ yào fā), meaning “I want to get rich.” And 886, sounding like “拜拜了” (bài bài le), is used online to say goodbye.

The number 8’s fortunes trace back to its pronunciation “bā” mirroring “发” (fā) for wealth or good fortune. In Mandarin Chinese, the number 8 is written as “八” and pronounced as “bā” with a high and level tone. When gesturing the number 8 with your hand, extend your thumb and index finger to form an “L” shape, similar to a finger gun.

Interestingly, the character “八” is composed of two strokes that divide the character into upper and lower halves, visually representing the concept of duality and balance, which is central to Chinese philosophy. This simple yet profound similarity between the pronunciation and the character’s appearance has seeded the number 8 with positive symbolism in Chinese culture.

The character “八” has evolved over time, with its ancient oracle bone script form resembling two lines crossing each other, similar to the modern-day Arabic numeral “8.” This visual representation further reinforces the number’s association with symmetry, harmony, and the interplay of opposing forces.

In Cantonese, another widely spoken Chinese dialect, the number 8 is pronounced as “baat3” with a rising tone. Although the pronunciation differs slightly from Mandarin, the auspicious connotations of the number 8 persist across Chinese dialects and regions.

The phonetic fascination with the number 8 in Chinese culture extends beyond its pronunciation and written form. In Cantonese, certain phrases and word plays involving the number 8 are believed to bring good luck and fortune. For example, “八八大发” (bā bā dà fā) is a popular phrase meaning “wishing you great prosperity,” as “发” (fā) sounds similar to “发财” (fā cái), which means “to become wealthy.”

Part2. The History of Lucky Number 8 in Chinese

8 in chinese

But the reasons behind 8’s popularity run deeper than mere phonetic chance, bridging China’s rich history with its dynamic present.

The yin-yang philosophy underpinning ancient Chinese thought invested the number 8 with cosmic significance. Yin-yang holds that all things contain contradictory yet complementary forces. Broken down, yin represents dark, passive, downward energy, while yang denotes bright, active, upward energy.

Yin-yang energy flows in continual flux yet maintains equilibrium. The classic yin-yang symbol depicts this eternal dance, with each side containing a dot of its opposite within.

Now, how does this relate to the number 8? The shape of 8 can be divided vertically into two identical, interlocking halves. These two circles represent yin and yang endlessly chasing each other, flowing into oneness.

So, in the yin-yang model, 8 signifies the duplicitous yet harmonious movement of primordial forces governing the universe. These mystical associations imbued 8 with layers of meaning tied to fortune, success, and positivity in Chinese thought and culture.

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Part3. Lucky Number 8 in Chinese: Modern Significance  

While ancient history and philosophy explain 8’s origins as an auspicious number, its relevance perseveres today in Chinese language and culture.

The pronunciation of 8 as “ba” still resembles “fa” meaning wealth or good fortune. This simple yet persistent linguistic similarity continues sparking creative connections.

An inspiring modern example is the retail chain Yaohan, named by combining the characters for 8 and 100 to signify abundance.

The number 8 resonates through other spheres of modern Chinese society, too. In Cantonese, properties with multiples of 8 fetch higher prices; they are hoping to attract buyers seeking extra fortune.

So this intriguing interplay between mystique, philosophy, and linguistics – ancient and modern – makes 8 one of the most uniquely captivating numbers today. Its deeper meanings reveal that everyday things can perplex with hidden richness when viewed from diverse angles.

Part4. The Spoken Use of 8 in Chinese

8 in chinese

Having explored the philosophical, cultural, and linguistic symbolism of the number 8 in Chinese culture, let’s delve into its practical usage in everyday conversations and interactions.

When it comes to expressing numbers in Mandarin Chinese, the number 8 is often used in various contexts, ranging from casual conversations to formal business dealings. For instance, when asking for someone’s phone number, you might hear “你的手机号码是多少?” (nǐ de shǒujī hàomǎ shì duōshao?), which means “What is your mobile phone number?” In response, someone with an auspicious phone number might say “我的号码是138****8888” (wǒ de hàomǎ shì yī sān bā **** bā bā bā bā), emphasizing the presence of multiple 8s in their number.

In business negotiations and transactions, Chinese people often prefer prices and quantities that include the number 8. For example, a seller might offer a product at a price of 888 yuan, believing that this price point will attract more customers due to its auspicious nature. Similarly, when deciding on the number of items to purchase, a buyer might opt for quantities like 8, 88, or 888 to invite good fortune.

The spoken use of the number 8 extends to important life events and milestones as well. When setting wedding dates or planning significant celebrations, many Chinese people choose dates that include the number 8, such as August 8th (8/8) or the 18th of a month. In such contexts, you might hear phrases like “我们打算在8月8日举行婚礼” (wǒmen dǎsuàn zài bā yuè bā rì jǔxíng hūnlǐ), meaning “We plan to hold our wedding on August 8th.”

Even in casual conversations, Chinese people often use the number 8 as a way to express good wishes and blessings. For instance, when parting ways with friends or family, someone might say “888” (bā bā bā) as a shorthand for “白白白” (bái bái bái), which means “bye-bye” and sounds similar to “发发发” (fā fā fā), implying wishes for prosperity and good fortune.

FAQs about 8 in Chinese

Q1. How does 8 bridge ancient wisdom and modern relevance?

The number 8 has enduring cultural resonance because it bridges ancient Chinese philosophical concepts like yin-yang with creative modern expressions. The visual symbolism extrapolated from yin-yang continues to shape how the number 8 is interpreted visually. And linguistically, the word “ba” sounding similar to “fa” (prosperity) persists in sparking novel connections in modern Chinese culture.

Q2. What modern creative connections can we make about 8?

Beyond linguistic coincidences like “528” resembling “I want to get rich”, the interlocked shape of 8 visually resembles infinity and continuity. Could this symbolize the eternal nature of self-cultivation – our persistent potential for improvement no matter one’s stage of personal growth? Making these philosophical connections keeps ancient concepts like yin-yang relevant.

Q3. Why do some Chinese addresses and phone numbers feature many 8s?

Due to the lucky connotations, numbers with several 8s are highly sought after in parts of Chinese society for addresses, vehicle license plates, and telephone numbers. But does surrounding oneself with a number truly bring prosperity if underlying thought patterns remain unchanged?

Q4. Does 8 mean the same thing in Cantonese and Mandarin?

While pronounced slightly differently in Cantonese and Mandarin, the number 8 carries positive connotations across Chinese languages and dialects. The general auspicious meanings of fortune and prosperity persist thanks to common linguistic roots and cultural beliefs.


The number 8 in Chinese culture, known as “ba”, perplexes with its layers of symbolism and meaning. From its visual depiction mirroring yin-yang to the linguistic similarity with fa meaning good fortune, 8 in Chinese bursts with philosophical, cultural, and homophonic significance. Despite its complex underpinnings, stating 8 in Chinese is beautifully simple – just utter the single syllable ba. In this article, you can learn about the Chinese character for 8, its phonetic pronunciation, historical origin, the symbol of lucky number and the using method of the 8 in Chinese.

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