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What are Some Names for Grandmothers?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are plenty of names for grandmothers, which can delight grandmothers who don’t want an old standby like Gram, Grandma, or Grandmother. Some young grandmothers would rather not be reminded of grandparent status, and others just like a name that sounds a little different or expresses the culture in which they were raised. Grandparents may have an idea in mind of what they’d like to be called, but grandchildren can sometimes thwart this. An inappropriate pronunciation of a grandmother’s name early on, may end up being the name all grandchildren choose later.

Some common names for grandmothers include things like nana, nonnie, grammy, mamaw, and big mamma. This is only the beginning though. Some people use names that reflect cultural or racial roots. Nonna is Italian for grandmother, and may be changed to Nonnie or Nanny. Belle mere is sometimes used in French for grandmother, though more commonly it apples to mothers-in-law or stepmothers. However, some grandmothers get called Bellmary or Bellmarie as a variant or grande mere, which is more common. Similarly Bella, which is Italian for beautiful, may perfectly suit the young or young at heart grandma. Oma is used in Dutch for Grandma, and Spanish-speaking cultures use abuela for grandmother.

If a name based on a certain language won’t do, there are other names for grandmothers that might. You can let grandkids call you by your first name, perhaps with Grandma in front of it. Joan would become Grandma Joan. Alternately, some people attach their last name to Grandma, and Mrs. Smith could be Grandma Smith. Especially when kids have two sets of grandparents it can help if they have different names for them.

This is only a departure point and you can create really any names for a grandmother that you choose. You’ll find a variety of inspiration on the Internet. Grandma can easily be Greema, Gran, Mima, Big Mom, Second Mom, Birdie, or Foxy. Sometimes children bestow the most special names for grandmothers. Imagine a child trying to pronounce grandma and coming up with all kinds of variations on this word. Greatma, germa, mama, rema, atma, are all examples, and sometimes really get creative. They may blend your name and grandma together, so that grandma Joan becomes Great Joan or MaJoan instead.

Though you can decide the names for grandmother that you’d like grandkids to use, don’t leave out the happy accidents that children may invent. It’s often the case that kids come up with names that are wonderfully unique and will mean no one else in the world gets to share the name your grandkid invented.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon946678 — On Apr 21, 2014

My great-grandchildren, of American/Thai descent, call me "Chuad", which my grandson-in-law tells me is the child's name for the great-grandmother.

By anon193707 — On Jul 05, 2011

I use the name "Mia" for my "young" grandmother name (41). I'm pleased with it.

By minombre — On Nov 26, 2008

Oma or Omama is also used in German language. Also I have heard Baba used for Grandmama. But whatever name you are being called, it is the very dear relationship that grandparents and grandchildren develop that is so precious and beneficial for both sides.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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