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How to Choose a Grandparent Name You Love

How to Choose a Grandparent Name You Love

If you’re a first-time grandparent (or your parents are), you may be trying to decide on a grandparent name. Do you feel more like Grandma or Nana? Or perhaps Mormor, Mimi or Spicy?

In our multicultural, individualistic world, grandparent nicknames are more varied and fun than ever before. You can stick to a traditional title, but you certainly don’t have to.

Maybe you feel too youthful and fun to be a Grandma or Grandpa, or you just want something different. Or maybe you’re a step-grandparent or have a different relationship, so classic grandparent terms don’t feel quite right.

Every family has their own unique set of grandparent names, and many have fascinating stories behind them. We asked our followers on Instagram to share their stories, and boy did they deliver! Read on for great ideas for all kinds of grandparents.

But remember, whatever you choose, it could take on a life of its own once your grandchildren start to speak!

Grandparent Name Stories

We asked our followers for their family’s grandparent names, and got a huge range of responses, from classic to seriously cool. Based on their collective wisdom, here are seven ways you could go with your grandparent name.

Traditional Grandparent Names

First off, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional options. For some people, it's hugely meaningful to take up the same name as a beloved grandparent or parent, honoring them and connecting to the lineage.

“My dad took the same grandparent name [Granddaddy] that his dad did. My mother was super close with her grandmother, who went by Granny, so that was the name she chose.”

Popular grandmother names for English speakers include Gram, Grandma, Gran, Granny, Memaw, Nan, Nana, and Nanny.

Classic English grandfather names include Gramps, Grandad, Granddaddy, Grandpa, Poppa, and Pops.

“Traditional Plus” Grandparent Names

These are traditional names with a little bonus, either to distinguish between two grandparents with the same title, or just because it happens that way.

Sometimes it’s the grandparent’s name:

“My mother-in-law is Jodi and their family tradition is “nana” so she’s NanaJo.”

Sometimes it’s a nickname or a distinguishing feature:

“‘Grampskers’. A combination of grandpa and his nickname (Whiskers).”

Or a lucky mispronunciation:

“[My mom’s] name is Kathy and she went with… Grandma Kathy. My nephew must have thought Kathy sounded like the better known word to him, happy, and Grandma Happy has stuck ever since with all her grandkids after!”

I also know children with a Nana Wales (guess where she lives), and a hirsute Grandpa Beard.

International Grandparent Names

A grandparent name from your heritage, or a culture you’re connected to, is a powerful link. It also makes a refreshing change from the usual English names. From our followers:

“I called my Dad’s parents farmor and farfar– to translate from Danish, ‘dadmom’ and ‘daddad’.”

“My dad is French, so he’s Papy!

Gungung (Chinese stepdad)... Baba (Ukrainian/Polish)”

Some more grandparent terms from around the world:

Danish and Swedish: Mormor (mother’s mother), Farmor (father’s mother), Morfar (mother’s father), Farfar (father’s father)

Filipino: Lola & Lolo

French: Mamy & Papy

German and Dutch: Oma & Opa

Greek: Yaya & Pappous

Hawaiian: Tutu Wahine & Tutu Kane (or Tutu for both)

Hindi: Nani (mother’s mother), Nana (mother’s father), Dadi (father’s mother) & Dada (father’s father)

Italian: Nonna & Nonno

Polish: Busia & Dzia Dzia

Quebecois: Meme & Pepe

Russian: Babushka & Dedushka

Spanish: Abuela & Abuelo, Abuelita & Abuelito

Welsh: Mamgu & Tadcu, Nain & Taid

Yiddish: Bubbe & Zayde

Fancy Grandparent Names

There’s a big trend, especially for women, towards grandparent names with a dash of glamor — often with a repeated sound that’s still easy and fun for children to say, like Mimi or Gigi.

Or Gaga, the name that Nameberry founder Pamela Redmond came up with for herself when she became a grandmother.

"I didn't want an old school grandmother name like Grandma or Nanny, which made me feel like my own grandmothers," says Redmond. "But I also wanted a name that celebrated rather than obscured my new grandparent status."

Gaga, a blend of Grandma and Nana, was perfect. And the strong female rock 'n' roll connection didn't hurt.

Other ideas:

“My mother-in-law is Zsa Zsa. She wanted something different and 'fancy'”

“I call my dad’s [mom] Mimi… she was only 49 when I was born, and said she didn’t want to be called Grandma!”

Discover more ideas for reduplicated names.

Child-led Grandparent Names

These are the ones you can’t plan for! Some of the best and most original terms for grandparents come from grandchildren’s imaginations or (mis)pronunciation, and they usually have sweet stories behind them.

“My daughter always got excited to see her grandma… and would shout ‘YEAH YEAH’ in her eagerness to see, hug and get spoiled by grandma. And eventually it became simply Yeye and it stuck.”

“My son calls my mom Nini. It was supposed to be Nana but he couldn’t say that!”

Bam and Bamps because they couldn’t say the ‘G’ in Gram and Gramps”

Shuda. She wanted to be Busha because that’s what we called our grandmother but my daughter couldn’t say it and it just stuck.”

Use (Or Adapt) Your Own Name

No one says you’ve got to have a grandparent alter ego. You want your grandkids to just call you by your name? You got it.

“[My] partner’s parents and stepmother are all just their own first name… Works out well because we didn’t have to come up with a separate name for step-grandmother, she’s included in the system for that side of the family”

Although there’s always the chance the children will take things their own way…

“They call my mother Subie. Her name is Susan and my oldest tried to say it and it came out Subie. We love it!”

…or you might want to make a few tweaks yourself.

“My mother-in-law’s name is Zelia… and so she is ZeeZee!”

“They call my dad ‘Grandall’ because his name is Randall”

“‘TB’ (my dad’s initials!)”

Unique Grandparent Names

When it comes to picking your grandparent name, the only limits really are your imagination — and what you’re happy with your grandchildren calling out in the playground. Here are some of the more unique names for grandparents we’ve heard: some with a special story behind them, and some just because.

“My mom is Birdie because my dad used Big Bird as her code name when they first started dating”

Inna… My mom’s name is Melinda and Inna was her childhood nickname.”

Mommee (emphasis on the e)”

Noni & Papi

Sugah and Spicy! My parents wanted something unique”

Mimmy and Pippy

Grandude… My dad loved the name after the Paul McCartney book and it’s stuck!”

Mimsy & Grandsir

Whatever name you go with, we’re certain it will be just right to represent the bond between you and your grandchildren. And who knows, one day they might use it themselves.

RELATED:

How to Name Your Baby After Your Grandpa

How to Name Your Baby After Your Grandma

About the Author

Clare Green

Clare has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, covering everything from the next high-rising names to how to choose a multilingual name, and keeping up-to-date with international baby name rankings. She has a background in linguistics and librarianship, and lives in England with her husband and toddler. You can follow everything she reads about names on Twitter or Scoop.it, or reach her at clare@nameberry.com