"侯" is an honorific title for the nobility in ancient China.
In ancient feudal China, besides huge fortune, the emperors conferred the nobility titles to their close kin, trusted subordinates and meritorious officials and officers. The titles distinguished the nobility from the common people. Moreover, high titles could be inherited. If one was conferred such a title, his descendants would maintain it for generations.
As far back as in Zhou Dynasty, Chinese Emperors developed the five-rank nobility system, consisting of "公" (ɡōnɡ, duke), "侯" (hóu, marquess), "伯" (bó, comte), "子" (zǐ, vicomte) and"男" (nán, baron) from the highest to the lowest in respect of seniority.
"侯" is ranked second. However, it is the highest title for a non-royal official or officer. It is subdivided into "列侯" (liè hóu) and "关内侯" (ɡuān nèi hóu), who enjoyed different privileges. "列侯" are entitled to grain and manor of a county (with a population of about 10,000 people) as well as appointment of county officials, while "关内侯" were only authorized to levy land rents and taxes."
In modern Chinese, the five-rank nobility system is still used to address the Western nobility. "公爵" (ɡōnɡ jué), "侯爵" (hóu jué), "伯爵" (bó jué), "子爵" (zǐ jué) and "男爵" (nán jué) are often seen in the Chinese translations of foreign books as well as in the news of Western royal officials visiting China. Although they are not often used in the daily life of Chinese people, the 爵-rooted words indicating the nobility status are a miniature of ancient Chinese culture and often read in the Chinese historical literature.
在现代汉语中，依然使用五等侯爵的尊贵顺序来对应翻译西方国家的贵族身份。公爵（ɡōnɡ jué）、侯爵（hóu jué）、伯爵（bó jué）、子爵（zǐ jué）、男爵（nán jué）这五个词语大量出现在中文引进版的书籍中。也常出现在，报道西方皇室拜访中国官员的相关新闻中。以"爵（jué）"为词根的一系列表示贵族身份的词汇虽在生活中不常用，但它们确是中国古代文化的缩印，也是历史类中文文献阅读中常出现的词汇。
Please visit Chinlingo for Chinese learning.