The Tao Te Ching, along with the Zhuangzi, is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism. It also strongly influenced other schools of Chinese philosophy and religion, including Legalism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, which was largely interpreted through the use of Taoist words and concepts when it was originally introduced to China. Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and gardeners, have used the Tao Te Ching as a source of inspiration. Its influence has spread widely outside East Asia and it is among the most translated works in world literature.
The Tao Te Ching is a compilation of two older classical texts, the Daojing (道經) and the Dejing (德經). The name is thus derived from the names of these two classics. The title of the Tao Te Ching is often misinterpreted or wrongly translated as the Classic of Morality or the Classic of the Way's Virtue, because of the meaning of the word produced when 道 and 德 are translated as a single word. Thus, it is important to consider that the Tao Te Ching is a compilation of these two classics, from which the Tao Te Ching takes its title. The correct English translation would be the Classic of the Way and Virtue.
The Tao Te Ching is the Wade-Giles romanization of the same name as the pinyin Daodejing and should be pronounced in the same way. That is, its ⟨t⟩s should be pronounced closer to English ⟨d⟩s. The Chinese characters in the title are:
The first character can be considered to modify the second or can be understood as standing alongside it in modifying the third. Thus, Tao Te Ching can be translated as "The Classic of the Way's Virtue(s)", the "Book of the Tao and Its Virtue", or "The Book of the Way and of Virtue, It has also been translated as The Tao and its Characteristics, The Canon of Reason and Virtue, The Classic Book of Integrity and the Way, and A Treatise on the Principle and Its Action.