Grandma, Granny, Abuela, Oma? Names for the New Grandmother (and Grandfather)

A new baby, especially the first baby or grandchild, reinvents roles for everyone in the family. One of the exciting, and sometimes stressful, parts of the process is deciding what the little one will call the new grandparents. Find your family’s best fit here!

Traditional Grandparent Names

There’s a wide range of tried-and-true monikers for grandparents, from formal to playful:

  • Grandmother/Grandfather
  • Grandma/Grandpa
  • Grandmom/Granddad
  • Mom-mom/Pop-pop
  • Meemaw
  • Pawpaw
  • Granny/Gramps
  • Nana
  • Nonna
  • Pop
  • Pappy

International Grandparent Names

The above “traditional” names all stem from English-speaking origins. Every culture, of course, brings its own family traditions into play. If you grew up with a non-English-speaking cultural background, it might be much more traditional to call a grandparent Opa (German, Dutch) or Abuela (Spanish) than Grandma or Pop-pop! If you married into another culture, or just want to learn more about grandparent names around the world, take a look! The grandfather name is first and grandmother name second in this list:

  • Arabic: Jadd/Jadda
  • Chinese (Mandarin maternal): Wai Gong/Wài pó
  • Chinese (Mandarin paternal): YeYe/Zumu
  • Dutch/German: Opa/Oma
  • Farsi: Baba Bozorg/Maman Bozorg
  • French: Grandpère/Grandmère
  • Greek: Papou/Yia-Yia
  • Hebrew: Saba/Savta
  • Igbo: Nna Nna/Nne Nne
  • India (Bengali): Dadu/Dida
  • India (Hindi): Daada/Daadi
  • Italian: Nonno/Nonna
  • Russian: Dedushka/Babushka
  • Spanish: Abuelo/Abuela
  • Swahili: Babu/Bibi
  • Tagalog (Phillippines): Lolo/Lola

You can of course find many more name options for every country and language!

Modern Grandparent Names

For various reasons, some grandparents prefer to find a less traditional name. Some new grandparents associate “Grandpa” or “Grandma” with a slower way of life than they want to model for their newest family member. Sometimes a more formal name feels “taken” by a great-grandparent, or a new grandparent may simply like the sound of a more modern name. You can try out a few of these options for grandmothers:

  • Ama
  • Ammy
  • Bella
  • Cici
  • Fancy
  • Gaga
  • Gamma
  • Gamma-gee
  • Gigi
  • Glamma
  • Go-Go
  • Lala
  • Mimi/Meemee
  • Sugar
  • Uma

Grandfathers may like ideas from the following list:

  • Ace
  • BigBop
  • Bigdad
  • BigPop
  • Buddy
  • Buzz/Buzzy
  • Chief
  • Coach
  • G-Man
  • Grandy
  • Papi
  • Pogo
  • Popo
  • Skipper
  • Wompa

What If I Hate the Grandparent Name Choice?

One possible situation you may find yourself in is that your parents or your partner’s parents choose a nickname they want the baby to call them — and you hate the sound of the name. When do you step in, and when do you hold your tongue?

Ask yourself what is it about the name that bothers you. Do you worry that a formal “Grandfather” won’t be interested in playing and bonding with the new baby? Does it feel like your mother or mother-in-law is encroaching on your role by insisting the baby call her “Mamma”? Do you think “Peepaw” or “Glamma” just sounds silly?

If your dislike of the grandparent name is mostly a matter of disliking the sound, it might be worth it to back down. There are more important battles than a preference for “Oma” versus “Nanny,” and your baby might end up figuring out her own adorable title for her grandparents, anyway.

If there’s a bigger underlying issue, like a grandfather demanding to be called “Papa” when you know your husband wants that to be his name, it might be more important to stand your ground. You and your partner deserve to start your parenting relationship secure that your feelings matter, and that grandparents aren’t choosing a name that makes you feel disrespected or undermined.

Whichever name your baby knows the grandparents by, what’s most important is that your little one is born into a loving family, excited to welcome and support this new life.

Jessica Sillers
Jessica Sillers is a parenting and finance writer whose work has been featured in Pregnancy & Newborn, Headspace, and more. As a new mom herself, she’s passionate about helping other parents find the community and support they need. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading, and hiking.

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