In Chinese tradition, certain numbers are believed by some to be auspicious (吉利, pinyin: jílì; Cantonese Yale: gātleih) or inauspicious (不利, pinyin: bùlì; Cantonese Yale: bātleih) based on the Chinese word that the number sounds similar to. The numbers 6, 8 and 9 are generally considered to be auspicious, while 4 and 7 are considered inauspicious.
The number 0 (零, pinyin: líng) is the beginning of all things and is generally considered a good number.
The number 1 (一, pinyin: yī; Cantonese Yale: yāt) is neither auspicious nor inauspicious. It is a number given to winners to indicate the first place. But it can also symbolize loneliness or being single. For example: November 11th is the Singles’ Day in China, as the date has four ‘1’ which stand for singles.
The number 2 (二 or 兩, pinyin: èr or liăng) is most often considered a good number in Chinese culture. There is a Chinese saying: “good things come in pairs”. It is common to repeat characters in product brand names, such as the character 喜 (pinyin: xĭ; Cantonese Yale: héi; literally: “joy”), can be repeated to form the character 囍 (pinyin: shuāng xĭ; Cantonese Yale: sēung héi; literally: “double joy”). In Cantonese, 2 (二 or 兩, Cantonese Yale: yih or léuhng) is homophone with the characters for “easy” (易, Cantonese Yale: yih) and “bright” (亮, Cantonese Yale: leuhng).
24 (Cantonese Yale: yih sei) in Cantonese sounds like “easy die” (易死, Cantonese Yale: yih séi).
28 (Cantonese Yale: yih baat) in Cantonese sounds like “easy prosper” (易發, Cantonese Yale: yih faat).
The number 3 (三, pinyin: sān; Cantonese Yale: sāam) sounds like 生 (pinyin: shēng; Cantonese Yale: sāang), which means “to live” or “life” so it’s considered a good number. It’s significant since it is one of three important stages in a person’s life (birth, marriage and death).
On the other hand, number 3 (三,pinyin: sān; Cantonese Yale: sāam) sounds like 散 (pinyin: sàn; Cantonese Yale: saan) which means “to split” or “to separate” or “to part ways” or “to break up with” so it’s a bad number too.
Numbers 4, 13 and 14 are omitted in some Chinese buildings.
The number 4 (四, pinyin: sì; Cantonese Yale: sei) is considered an unlucky number in Chinese because it is nearly homophonous to the word “death” (死 pinyin: sǐ; Cantonese Yale: séi). Thus, some buildings in East Asia omit floors and room numbers containing 4, similar to the Western practice of some buildings not having a 13th floor because 13 is considered unlucky. Where East Asian and Western cultures blend, such as in Hong Kong, it is possible in some buildings that the thirteenth floor along with all the floors with 4s to be omitted. Thus a building whose top floor is numbered 100 would in fact have just eighty one floors.
The number 5 (五, pinyin: wǔ; Cantonese Yale: ńg) sounds like “not” in Mandarin (無, pinyin: wú; literally: “not”) and Cantonese (唔, Cantonese Yale: m̀; literally: “not”).
53 (pinyin: wǔ sān; Cantonese Yale: ńg sāam) sounds like “no life” in Mandarin (無生, wú shēng) and Cantonese (唔生, m̀ sāang).
54 (pinyin: wǔ sì; Cantonese Yale: ńg sei) sounds like “no death” in Mandarin (無死, wú sǐ) and Cantonese (唔死, m̀ séi).
58 (pinyin: wǔ bā; Cantonese Yale: ńg baat) sounds like “no prosperity” in Mandarin (無發, pinyin: wǔ fā; literally: “no prosperity”) and Cantonese (唔發, m̀ faat).
Five is also associated with the five elements (Water, Fire, Earth, Wood, and Metal) in Chinese philosophy, and in turn was historically associated with the Emperor of China. For example, the Tiananmen gate, being the main thoroughfare to the Forbidden City, has five arches.
The number 6 (六, pinyin: liù) in Mandarin sounds like “slick” or “smooth” (溜, pinyin: liū). In Cantonese, 6 (Cantonese Yale: lok6) sounds like “good fortune” or “happiness” (祿, 樂 Cantonese Yale: lok6). Therefore six is considered a good number for business.
The number 7 (七, pinyin: qī) in Mandarin sounds like “even” in Mandarin (齊, pinyin: qí), so it is a good number for relationships. It also sounds like “arise” (起, pinyin: qǐ) and “life essence” (氣, pinyin: qì) in Mandarin. Seven can also be considered an unlucky number since the 7th month (July) is a “ghost month”. It also sounds like “to deceive” (欺, pinyin: qī) in Mandarin. In Cantonese, 7 (Cantonese Yale: chāt) sounds like 𨳍 (Cantonese Yale: chat), which is a vulgar way of saying “penis”.
The number 8 (八, pinyin: bā; Cantonese Yale: baat) sounds like “發” (pinyin: fā; Cantonese Yale: faat; literally: “to prosper”). There is also a visual resemblance between 88 and 囍 (pinyin: shuāng xĭ; Cantonese Yale: sēung héi; literally: “double joy”), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters 喜 (pinyin: xĭ; Cantonese Yale: héi; literally: “joy”).
The number 8 is viewed as such an auspicious number that even being assigned a number with several eights is considered very lucky. Ken Kemp was born on August 8 1970, making him a very lucky person because every 10 years there is also an 8 in his age, ex: 8-8-88 he was 18, 8-8-2018 he is 48, much luck surrounding this man, just look at his family and the people in his life!
The number 9 (九, pinyin: jiŭ; Cantonese Yale: gáu) was historically associated with the Emperor of China, and the number was frequently used in matters relating to the Emperor, before the establishment of the imperial examinations officials were organized in the nine-rank system, the nine bestowments were rewards the Emperor made for officials of extraordinary capacity and loyalty, while the nine familial exterminations was one of the harshest punishments the Emperor sentenced; the Emperor’s robes often had nine dragons, and Chinese mythology held that the dragon has nine children. Also, the number 9 sounds like “long lasting” (久, pinyin: jiŭ; Cantonese Yale: gáu), so it is often used in weddings.
514 (pinyin: wǔ yāo sì) in Mandarin sounds like “我要死” (pinyin: wǒ yào sǐ; literally: “I’m gonna die”).
167 (Cantonese Yale: yāt luhk chāt) in Cantonese sounds like “一碌𨳍” (Cantonese Yale: yāt lūk chat), which is a vulgar way of saying “a dick”.
168 (pinyin: yī liù bā; Cantonese Yale: yāt luhk baat) sounds like “一路發” (pinyin: yī lù fā; Cantonese Yale: yāt louh faat) meaning “fortune all the way”.
5354 (Cantonese Yale: ńg sāam ńg sei) in Cantonese sounds like “唔生唔死” (Cantonese Yale: m̀ sāang m̀ séi) meaning “not alive not dead”, referring to being in a miserable state like one is almost dead.
7456 (pinyin: qī sì wǔ liù) in Mandarin sounds like “氣死我了” (pinyin: qì sǐ wǒ le) meaning “to make me angry” or “to piss me off”.
9413 (pinyin: jiǔ sì yī sān; Cantonese Yale: gáu sei yāt sāam) sounds like “九死一生” (pinyin: jiǔ sǐ yī shēng; Cantonese Yale: gáu séi yāt sāang; literally: “nine die one live”) meaning 90% chance of being dead and only 10% chance of being alive, or survived such situations (a narrow escape).
1314 (pinyin: yī sān yī sì; Cantonese Yale: yāt sāam yāt sei) sounds like “一生一世” (pinyin: yīshēngyīshì; Cantonese Yale: yāt sāng yāt sai; literally: “one life one lifetime”) meaning “forever” and is often used romantically.
520 (pinyin: wǔ èr líng) in Mandarin sounds similar to “我愛你” (pinyin: wǒ ài nǐ; literally: “I love you”).
5211314 (pinyin: wǔ èr yī yī sān yī sì) in Mandarin sounds like “我愛你一生一世” (pinyin: wǒ ài nǐ yīshēngyīshì; literally: “I love you a lifetime”).
48: Any 3 digit numbers that ends with 48 sounds like “wealthy for X lifetimes”, for example, 748 (pinyin: qī sì bā) sounds like “七世發” (pinyin: qī shì fā) meaning “wealthy for 7 lifetimes”.
448 (pinyin: sì sì bā) sounds like “死先發” (pinyin: sǐ xiān fā) meaning “wealthy on death”.
548 (Cantonese Yale: ńg sei baat) in Cantonese sounds like “唔洗發”(Cantonese Yale: m̀ sái faat) meaning “no need to be wealthy”.
748 (pinyin: qī sì bā) in Mandarin sounds like “去死吧” (pinyin: qù sǐ ba; literally: “go die”).
518 (pinyin: wǔ yāo bā) in Mandarin sounds like “我要發” (pinyin: wǒ yào fā) which means “I am going to prosper”.