Sep 6, 2019

What Do You Call Grandma?

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

by Jessica Grimaud
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
 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) 
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

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

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!