What Do You Call Grandma? Names of Grandparents around the World

September 6, 2019  - by 

Do you have a favorite name for your grandparents? Maybe it was Maw Maw and Paw Paw, or Nana and Pop, or the classic Grandma and Grandpa. While many families have their own unique names for their grandparents, here some common names people around the world call their grandparents.

Ireland (Gaelic)

Grandmother: Maimeó (pronounced Mam-o)

Grandfather: Daideó (pronounced Daddo)

While maimeó and daideó are the words used to address a grandmother or grandfather, there are a few different words for grandparents in Irish. For example, there are máthair chríona, which translates to “wise mother,” and athair críonna which translates to “wise father.”

Greece (Greek)

Grandfather with granddaughter by the water

Grandmother: Yaya (yah-yah)

Grandfather: Pappoús (pa-poos)

Many Greek children are named after their grandparents. These names often correspond to a saint’s name, and along with celebrating birthdays, families also celebrate a child’s name day. The name day is the saint’s feast day.

Japan (Japanese)

Grandmother: Obaasan, Sobo (obaa-san, soh-boh)

Grandfather: Ojiisan, Sofu (oh-gee-sahn, soh-foo) 

Though most Japanese homes house only immediate family, extended family often live close by and visit frequently. In Japanese culture, elders are highly respected.

A Japanese grandfather with his grandson, who is holding a pigeon.

Russia (Russian)

Grandmother: Babushka (BAH-boo-shka)

Grandfather: Dedushka (DYZE-doo-shka)

Both of these terms are used to address one’s grandparents as well as someone of grandmotherly or grandfatherly age. Babushka is also the name of colored, light wool headscarves worn by older women in Russia.

India (Hindi)

An Indian grandmother with her granddaughter

Grandmother: Nani (maternal), DaaDee Jii (paternal)

Grandfather: Nana (maternal), DaaDaa Jii (paternal)

India has over 22 major languages, and depending on the region you are in, you might hear a variety of names for grandparents. For example, in one of India’s languages, Telugu, grandma is am’mam’ma, and grandpa is tatayya.

Morocco (Arabic)

Grandmother: Jaddah (juddah)

Grandfather: Jad (jud) 

A common Arabic proverb about grandparents goes, “Only your grandchild is dearer to you than your child.”

France (French)

Grandmother: Grand-mère (gran-mare)

Grandfather: Grand-père (gran-pear)

French-Canadian versions of grandma and grandpa are slightly different, with many people using the terms mémère and pépère.

Grandparents holding an umbrella with a little girl.

Israel (Hebrew)

Grandmother: Savta

Grandfather: Saba

Grandchildren may also call their grandmothers Bubbe or Bubby and their grandfathers Zayde or Zayda, the Yiddish words for these titles.

Sweden (Swedish)

Grandmother: Mormor (maternal), Farmor (paternal)

Grandfather: Morfar (maternal), Farfar (paternal)

Swedish last names often employ patronymics, the tradition of adding a suffix or prefix to the father’s name and passing it on to the child.

A little boy and girl laughing with their grandfather.

Brazil (Portuguese)

Grandmother: Avó (ah-vah)

Grandfather: Avô (ah-voah)

It’s not uncommon to find three generations living under one roof. The word for “family” (parentela) often refers to extended family as well, not just immediate family.

Spain (Spanish)

Grandmother: Abuela

Grandfather: Abuelo

Spaniards have the highest life expectancy in Europe, living on average for 85.8 years. This long life means more time with grandparents!

Kenya (Swahili)

Two grandparents smiling

Grandmother: Bibi (bee-bee)

Grandfather: Babu (bah-boo)

In Kenya, according to tradition, the youngest son is responsible for caring for his aging parents.

Italy (Italian)

A grandmother with her granddaughter

Grandmother: La Nonna (non-na)

Grandfather: Il Nonno (non-no)

In Italian culture, people have a deep respect for elderly family members. These senior members are deeply invested in their children and grandchildren’s lives, and this care comes with the expectation that their children and grandchildren will likewise care for them throughout their old age.

It’s fun to know what other people call their grandparents, but it’s even better to actually call and talk to your grandparents! When you call, ask your grandparents to share some of their stories with you. Need some ideas? Check out this article about how you can preserve your grandparents’ stories!

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    1. Grandmother in Polish is Babcia. In English would be pronounced Bob-cha.
      Grandfather in Polish is Dziadek. In English would be pronounced Jaw-dek.
      There are different dialects in Polish that may pronounce or even spell them differently.

  1. My grandchildren call me Ozma after Princess Ozma of the Wizard of Oz series. This came from a childhood story while I was reading the Oz books.

  2. Este programa me ha ayudado bastante, me bautice en 1968 y en lugar de tomar las clases de investigadores y miembros nuevos, le pedi permiso al maestro de Genealogia que asi se llamaba cuando me bautice, que me permitiera ir a su clase, yo siempre antes de ser miembro me gustaba mucho preguntarle a mi abuelita materna por sus padres, abuelos, hermano, hermanas y me gustaba mucho y mi abuelito era el que me contestaba todo lo que yo preguntaba. Mientras mas tiempo tenia yo como miembro mas aprendia y me llamaron a trabajar en la extracción de nombres, que en ese entonces sacabamos la información de los microfilmes, y escribiamos la información en unas tarjetas, una era la tarjeta A y otra la B con la misma información.
    Pasé mucho tiempo buscando a mis antepasados en los microfilmes que mandabamos pedir a Lago Salado, por medio del Centro de Historia Familiar de la estaca..Todo esto paso en California.
    Me fué muy bien encontrando los nombres que mi abuelito materno me habia dado y despues de 51 de miembro de la iglesia sigo amando esta obra tan hermosa y sigo trabajando y llevando sus nombres al templo para darles una oportunidad a mis antepasados de Venir y conocer a Cristo.
    Fui directora del Centro de Historia Familiar en Covina CA, hoy vivo en Las Cruces NM y aún sigo trabajando, pues amo mucho a mis antepasados y cada dia que pasa encuentro mas información, tengo un testimonio muy fuerte de esta gran obra tan anoblecedora y sé que un dia los conoceré cuando pase al otro lado del velo, y les dare un gran abrazo y les dire que siempre los he querido, aunque no los conocí aquí en la tierra.
    Mi email es sylviaehernandez @aol.com

    Translation:

    This program has helped me a lot, I was baptized in 1968 and instead of taking the classes of researchers and new members, I asked permission of the Genealogy teacher that was called when I was baptized, that allowed me to go to his class, I always before If I was a member, I liked to ask my maternal grandmother about her parents, grandparents, brother, sisters and I liked her a lot and my grandfather was the one who answered everything I asked. The more time I had as a member, the more I learned and they called me to work on the extraction of names, which at that time we extracted the information from the microfilms, and we wrote the information on some cards, one was the A card and another the B with the same information.
    I spent a lot of time looking for my ancestors in the microfilms we sent to ask for Salt Lake, through the Family History Center of the stake … All this happened in California.
    I went very well finding the names that my maternal grandfather had given me and after 51 of the church I still love this beautiful work and I continue working and taking their names to the temple to give my ancestors a chance to come and meet Christ.
    I was director of the Family History Center in Covina CA, today I live in Las Cruces NM and I am still working, because I love my ancestors very much and every day that passes I find more information, I have a very strong testimony of this great work so drowning and I know that one day I will meet them when I pass the other side of the veil, and I will give them a big hug and tell them that I have always loved them, although I did not know them here on earth.
    My email is sylviaehernandez @ aol.com