Toll Free - U.S.& Canada:  1-800-791-9386   Hong Kong:  800-930-623   Australia:  1-800-779-835
Free online Chinese learning support
  • Follow us on Facebook!
  • Watch Our YouTube Videos!
  • Follow us on Twitter!
  • Follow us on WeChat!
    Follow Us in WeChat by Scanning!
    Follow Us in "WeChat"
    by Scanning
  • Follow us on LinkedIn
  • Explore Our Instagram Videos & Photos!
United Kingdom:  0-800-086-8969   Germany:  0-800-180-0341   Singapore:  800-130-1652
France:  0-805-080-689   Spain:  900-838-906    

Why Does a Chinese Husband Call His Wife’s Father “岳父 (Yuèfù)?” (Intermediate)

Oct. 9, 2010

Why Does a Chinese Husband Call His Wife's Father "岳父 (Yuèfù)?" (Intermediate)

Key Learning Points (Preview):

称呼 (chēnghū): n./v. form of address/ to call; to address


In China, husbands often call their wives' father "岳父 (yuèfù)." The meaning of  "父 () father" is rather easy to understand, but the Chinese character "岳 (yuè)" can be confusing. The following story explains why Chinese people "称呼 (chēnghū) call" their wives' fathers "岳父 (yuèfù)":

In ancient China, emperors often went to the peaks of famous mountains to worship the mountains and rivers. Additionally, they also proclaimed promotions of other government officials there.

In the Tang Dynasty, Emperor "唐玄宗 (Táng Xuánzōng) Tang Xuanzong" promoted his subordinates at "泰山 (Tàishān) Mount Tai." He raised "张说 (Zhāng Yuè) Zhang Yue" to an official position of great power. After that, "张说 (Zhāng Yuè) Zhang Yue" used his power to help his "女婿 (nǚxu) son-in-law " "郑镒 (zhèng Yì) Zheng Yi" also get a significant government promotion. "唐玄宗 (Táng Xuánzōng) Tang Xuanzong" became aware of this and questioned "郑镒 (zhèngYì) Zheng Yi" on how he got such a good promotion in such a short time. "郑镒 (zhèngYì) Zheng Yi" remained speechless, but his colleague "黄幡绰 (Huáng Fānchuò) Huang Fanchuo"  told Emperor "唐玄宗 (Táng Xuánzōng) Tang Xuanzong": "Thanks to the power of '泰山 (Tàishān) Mount Tai,' he got the promotion." Then "唐玄宗 (Táng Xuánzōng) Tang Xuanzong" became to understand that "张说(Zhāng Yuè) Zhang Yue" had practiced nepotism to help his "女婿 (nǚxu) son-in-law" after his own promotion atop "泰山 (Tàishān) Mount Tai."

Many people heard of this and began to "称呼 (chēnghū) call"  their wives' father "泰山 (Tàishān) Mount Tai." Because "泰山 (Tàishān) Mount Tai" is the No. 1 among the "五岳 (wǔyuè)Five Famous Mountains," people also began to call their wives' fathers "岳父 (yuèfù)."

In modern Chinese, this "称呼 (chēnghū) form of address" is still in use. Since Chinese people call their parents "父母 (fùmǔ)," they call their wives' mother "岳母 (yuèmǔ)."

 Key Learning Points:

称呼 (chēnghū): n./v. form of address/ to call; to address



Wǒ kāishǐ xuéxí hànyǔ de shíhou, Zhōngguórén duì jiārén de gè zhǒng chēnghū
我   开始    学习 汉语   的   时候,    中国人         对 家人   的 各   种        称呼
ràng wǒ chǎnshēngle hěn dà de xìngqù.
   让   我     产生了       很   大 的 兴趣。


When I started my Chinese learning, I was really interested in the various forms of address for families in China.

Zài Zhōngguó,wǒmen chēnghū bàba de bàba wéi yéye.
在   中国,           我们       称呼    爸爸 的 爸爸 为  爷爷。


In China, we call our father's father grandpa.

Culture Note:

五岳 (wǔyuè): In China, "五岳" refers to the Five Famous Mountains, consisting of "恒山 (Héngshān) Mount Heng in Shanxi Province," "华山(Huàshān) Mount Hua in Shaanxi Province," "嵩山 (Sōngshān) Mount Song in Henan Province," "泰山 (Tàishān) Mount Tai in Shandong Province," and "衡山 (Héngshān) Mount Heng in Hunan province." These five mountains are renowned for their beautiful scenery. Mount Tai ranked number one among the Five Famous Mountains.

New Vocabulary in Your Chinese Learning:

岳父 (yuèfù):n. father-in-law


女婿 (nǚxu):n. son-in-law


父母 (fùmǔ):n. parents


岳母 (yuèmǔ):n. mother-in-law


If you want to study more forms of address in your Chinese learning, please see below:

Chinese Learning Materials: Chinese Song for Children: Family Tree (Beginner)
Chinese Learning Materials: How to Say "Parents" and "Grandparents" in Chinese (Beginner)





Got questions? Take a free 1-to-1 lesson with one of our professional teachers by signing up below:
Name:  E-mail: 
Country/Region:  Tel: 
By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


Hey, you’re the goto exeprt. Thanks for hanging out here.

I really aprpecatie free, succinct, reliable data like this.

This arctile keeps it real, no doubt.

Write a comment

Your Name: 
Your Email:  Your email address will not be published.
Verification Code:  Verification Code Unclear? Try another one
By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
Email This Article
Recipients' email addresses:
(separate recipients with comma)
Your name:
Your e-mail address (optional):
Your message (optional):
Verification Code:
By clicking Send, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Sign up for a free trial now!
Get more information about our Chinese lessons through live chat
Get a FREE live 1-to-1 lesson and FREE e-books. Complete the form below:

By clicking Submit, you agree to our

Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Get 11 FREE Mandarin E-books