Meaning of 886 in Chinese

I received email asking about what 886 means in Chinese. This is an interesting question.


Simply put it, 8 may generally means rich, because it has similar pronunciation of being rich. 6 means smooth, since the pronunciation of 6 is pretty smooth by itself.

886 is a pretty good number, in most Chinese people’s mind.

Meanwhile, it is also the international long distance area code number for Taiwan (mainland China is 86, and Hong Kong is 882).

Numbers and Its Related Characters

Since there are tens of thousands of Chinese characters (number 0 to 9 are just ten of them), and there are basically only 200 or something pronunciations, as you can imagine, many characters maps to exactly the same pronunciation.

Although there are characters with exactly the same pronunciation with the 10 numbers, like cloth to 1, dance to 5, wander to 6, wife to 7…, these numbers are not generally mapping to this meanings. There are some characters with pretty similar meanings, like 4 and die, 8 and rich, 5 and me, 1 with want, 2 with son, that are generally used to “translate” the numbers.

Impact of Numbers to People

People in China generally (although it may be too generally to say so) care about numbers and their meanings, to certain extend. A good number (with many 8 or 6 in it) is much more popular than others.

For office and residential buildings, people don’t like number of 4, 14, just like western people don’t like number of 13. So you may see some buildings with stair numbers like this:

















A Joke about Telephone Number

When I was in Shanghai Jiaotong University, I have a schoolmate who don’t want to tell others the telephone number of their dorm, and in early 1995, they all bought a pager, or mobile phone. Their phone number was:


(with 5 means I, 7 means wife, 2 means son, and 8 means dad, and 4 means die…)

21 thoughts on “Meaning of 886 in Chinese

  1. ‘886’ means ‘bye bye le’,or we use “88”to say “bye-bye”in QQ ,etc.

    Since we know this meanings,Jianshuo knows too.

    To my surprise and curiosity, Jianshuo can think and write more deep than us through our daily matters ,that’s not easy !

  2. I do numbers slightly differently:

    In the West: 1, 2, 3, 4 … 10, 11, 12A, 12B, 14, 15, 16…

    In China (& the West): 1, 2, 3, 4 … 10, 11, 12A, 12B, 12C, 15, 16…

    So my MacBook is my 13th — ie my “12Bth” Mac. ;-)

  3. i also think it means byebyele when written together

    jianshuo is very specialO(∩_∩)O哈哈~

    he is a thinkink man

  4. HI, thanks to jianshuo’s introducion, it’s dragoning, jetty, drjetty , as you had posted in your former blog

  5. You are wrong. the number 13 is not a bad number for the westerns, it is a bad number for the UNITED STATES. You see, the last time i checked the usa did NOT own the entire western side of the world.

  6. Dear Alessandra,

    Although I agree that many in the US arrogantly consider themselves the center of the Western hemisphere, it it not true that superstitions about 13 are confined to the US. In fact the Thirteen Clubs that formed in America were a deliberate attempt to discard such traditions. But many Western cultures and nations share the superstition about the number 13. See:

    More about telephone numbers in China: In Shanghai there is a hospital whose telephone number is all 8s. Maybe the crematorium has all 4s in its number? And when getting a new cell number in China, be prepared to pay more for those with auspicious digits.

  7. Actually superstition about number 13 is linked to bad education in Europe. With “bad” I do not mean “no education”, I mean an education that did not make apparent how things work.

  8. My travel agent in Hong Kong is on floor M2 which the 13th floor! A lot of buildings here in Australia have their plant room (airconditioning etc) on the 13th floor. So it is not just America.

    All the rooms in the hotel I stayed in in Shekou, Shenzhen started with 8 no matter what floor you were on but the the second number told you the floor -I was on the seventh floor in room 8739. In hospitals in China the number four (Si in mandarin) is not seen as it sounds like Si (different tone) which means death.

  9. The same thing. I got a number xxx388 in a bank. What a great number. My friend got xxx188, and another xxx288 – they have all the numbers ending at 88, and exclude 4 from the numbers.

  10. yes, 886 means baybayle, but what does 887-1 mean? A friend told me that. 谢谢。 Since i’m not sure if this things notifies me by e-mail, i’ll post mines here if you have an answer to my question. Thanks.

  11. Questions on numbers????

    Which number sounds better giving only these two choices 2472 or 2476. If not, try to define what would it mean with them. Thanks GP

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