1724, Latinization of Chinese K'ung Fu-tzu "K'ung the philosopher (or Master)" (c. 551 B.C.E.-c. 479 B.C.E.), who sought to remedy the degeneracy and oppression of his time by the spread of virtue and learning. The name first appears in the West in a Latin publication of Chinese works (Paris, 1687). Connection with the martial arts kung-fu is obscure, uncertain.

His ethico-political philosophy is based on proper observance of the relationships of human life (parent/child, husband/wife, prince/subject, etc.). The term Confucianism (1836) sometimes is extended to ancient Chinese speculative philosophy generally. Related: Confucian (adj.), 1759.