The posthumous name consists of one or more adjectives inserted before the ruler's current title. As rulers from different states might share the same posthumous name, but rulers within a state would usually not repeat an already used name, the name of the state or domain is usually also given to avoid ambiguity. In Chinese the whole construct is therefore "[state][adjective][title]", which in English is typically translated as "[title][adjective] of [state]", such as
King Wen of Zhou,
Duke Mu of Qin, and
King Cheng of Chu. The literal meaning of the adjective is normally not translated.
While the names of living Chinese can be just about any combination of characters, the posthumous name was chosen from a rather small pool of stock characters; the literal meaning of which eroded as a result.