Lucky Numbers for the Chinese

Like many other peoples, the Chinese favor some numbers over some others for the sake of good luck. This is no sophisticated numerology but the practice is widely found among people in China.

So, for the Chinese, what are the lucky numbers? To start off, 9 is great. For one thing, the Chinese pronunciation for this number is the same as for the word “longevity.” Who doesn’t want to live forever or have one’s business to prosper in the long term? Plus, according to traditional Chinese philosophy, 9 is the largest number – if you go beyond 9, you ends up with zero. There is a limit to everything, so you better have a sense of modesty (and still get as much as possible out of life).

Number 8 is great too. The way this number is pronounced, especially in South China, it’s like the Chinese character for “prosper”. In value, of course, it is right below 9, and it is an even number. In most cases, even numbers are considered better than odd numbers.
And that brings us to number 6. Six is favored by a lot people too because it is pronounced like the word for “smooth” or the word “flow.” It thus implies success.

Number 2 is all right, but not great. It is an even number but a small one. Additionally, in recent years, some young Chinese have started to use the word as a kind of curse for someone they view as silly. It is the English equivalence of “moron”. Why “two” for “moron”? Believe me, we better not get into that, which has something to do with human anatomy. Anyway, just think of it, you’re supposed to have just one of them, but you actually have two – isn’t that silly?

Still, 2 is an even number and as such it is better than 1, 3, 5, and 7.

Now what’s with number 4? No, we didn’t forget number 4. Four is an even number, to be sure. Unfortunately its pronunciation sounds like the Chinese word “death”. That just about kills it as a remotely acceptable lucky number. In rare cases, though, the number is used in an auspicious way. For example, there is a Chinese dish called “Four-Happiness Meatball.”

When you go to China or deal with some Chinese, pay attention to what we’ve told you above. Of course nobody is going to hold a foreigner for unknowingly violate some of their quirky taboos, but wouldn’t be nice if you can show your Chinese friends or associates that you’re aware of such matters? That means, for example, when you give more than one gift (giving one gift is quite acceptable), make the number even but avoid 4. Also, if you take a business card from someone and on it you see a phone number that ends with something like “6688”, you know that the guy has done well in some ways. He may have obtained the number in an auction or have secured it through some kind of connection. Or he is just lucky.