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Names for Grandparents

From Queen to Gary: What Does Your Grandchild Call You?

Kathy Simpson

Becoming a grandparent is an exciting time with a new family member to welcome, a new role to figure out for yourself and new trends in child-rearing to catch up on. If you’re becoming a grandparent for the first time you also have an all-important decision to make: what will your grandchild call you?

Many people stick with the traditional “Grandma” and “Grandpa,” but the alternatives are limited only by your imagination (and your grandchild’s). No matter what the grandkids call you, hopefully you find the job title “grandparent” one of the most rewarding in your life.

Queen Elizabeth, one of the world’s most prominent exemplars of tradition, has a grandmotherly nickname that is anything but traditional: Gary. As the story is told, the Queen’s toddler grandson Prince William hurt himself running about the palace one day, and cried out “Gary, Gary!” much to the consternation of household staff. “Who’s Gary?” they asked.

“I’m Gary,” the Queen explained, as she swept in to comfort her grandson. “He hasn’t learned to say Granny yet.”

Gary might not be a top choice in your preferred book of grandmotherly names, but today’s grandparents have lots of options. Of course, it’s always a good idea to bring the baby’s parents into the decision-making process, and remember that when the time is right, your grandchildren may override whatever you decide upon with something precious of their own.

In the meantime, here are some ideas to help you find the grandparent name that’s just right for you.

Traditional Grandparent Names

Traditional Grandparent Names

Many grandparents go the traditional route, finding comfort in the names their families and society have used over generations. The most common pairings are Grandma and Grandpa, Nana and Papa, and their variations.

A few alternatives for Grandma include Grammy, Gamma, G-Ma, Granny, and Nanna. Grandfather may be shortened to Grampa, Gramps, G-Pa, Poppy or Pops.

But tradition isn’t for everyone. If you’re inspired to embrace something different, read on.

Modern and Creative Grandparent Names

Actress and grandmother Susan Sarandon doesn’t go by Grandma, Grammy, Nana or anything close to traditional. Her grandkids call her “Honey.” Many grandparents are similarly eschewing traditional names, either because they don’t feel they fit the mold of the stereotypical grandparent, or because they want to be called something they feel better suits them personally.

A non-traditional name can be whatever you choose — from MiMi, GaGa, GoGo and Nannie for grandmothers, to Grandy, Peppy, PoPo and Grandude for grandfathers. But that’s only a start. This is an opportunity to be creative! Choose a name that is in sync with your personality, has a sound you like, and is easy to pronounce, and chances are good it will stick.

Modern and Creative Grandparent Names

Traditional Grandparent Names from Around the World

The languages of different nationalities or cultures can be a great source of inspiration when choosing a grandparental name. You may choose to use a name from your own family heritage, thereby sharing an element of your family’s history with the new generation. Or you can shorten foreign words in order to come up with a nickname that’s uniquely yours.

Here is a collection of popular, informal names for grandma and grandpa from around the world. A few countries conveniently have different names for the paternal and maternal grandparents:

  • Belgium: Bomma and Bonpa
  • China: Lao Lao and Lao Ye (maternal) and NaiNai and YeYe (paternal)
  • France: Mémé and Pépé
  • Germany: Oma and Opa
  • Greece: Yaya and Pappous
  • India: Nani and Nana (maternal) and Dadi and Dada (paternal)
  • Israel: Savta and Saba
  • Italy: Nonna and Nonno
  • Japan: Sobo and Sofu
  • Morocco: Jiddah and Jadd
  • Philipines: Lola and Lolo
  • Russia: Babushka and Dedushka
  • Southern U.S.: Mawmaw and Pawpaw
  • Spain: Abuelita and Abuelito
Let Your Grandchild Choose

Let Your Grandchild Choose 

Your grandchild may call you by something other than the name you spent so much time agonizing over. Usually this is because the subtleties of speech take time to master, as was the case for Prince William. With time, your grandchild will learn how to call you by your chosen name.

But you may also discover that your grandchild-given name is so endearing (and creative) that you adopt it as your own. At the least, it will be a heart-warming family memory. Who knows: Prince William may still call his grandmother Gary from time to time, which undoubtedly brings a big smile to both of their faces.

Whatever name you go by, being a grandparent is one of life’s greatest joys. Prepare yourself for this special chapter of your life, and enjoy the precious time you have with your grandchildren—before they’re all grown up.

What do your grandchildren call you and how was your name chosen? We’d love to hear your stories. Please join the conversation by sharing in the comments.

Read more articles about grandparenting:

63 Responses to "From Queen to Gary: What Does Your Grandchild Call You?"
    • Allyn Callahan | July 10, 2020 at 2:37 pm

      My grandson has an older step sister who called their other grandmother Grammy. The whole family started referring to me as Grammy A——— (my first name) to differentiate between the two of us. But as soon as he got to about age 5 I noticed my grandson was calling me Grandma. I was so pleased and surprised he chose to give me my own special name. And Grandma I remain.

    • Roberta Metzger | July 11, 2020 at 10:02 pm

      My granddaughter was 2 and my son tried to get her to call me Grandma Metzger. She could not say our last name so I told her to call me Grandma Roberta if that was easier. She could not pronounce that so the next day when her mother was reading to her about a red bird, I said Roberta sounds a lot like Redbird. She is 7 now and I am still Grandma Redbird.

    • Judy McGlasson | September 10, 2020 at 11:17 am

      Mine is simply Grandma Judy and I love it. I am a young grandma and my children are young parents which meant more grandparents. There were 2 sets of grandparents and then also there were great grandparents on both sides. Which meant lots of grandparents for the little ones. So when they would say something like ‘grandma told me (whatever)’ they would be asked ‘which grandma’ and if it were me, they would say ‘ Grandma Judy’. So, it stuck, even today, with my great grandchildren. They all call me ‘Grandma Judy’ I even have 2 grandson -in-laws that call me ‘Grandma Judy’ and I dearly love it.

    • Cassandra G Thompson | September 10, 2020 at 11:44 am

      I have eight grandchildren , about to have my ninth and they call us grandma and granddad , and my father great grand dad .

    • WILLIAM DUBE | September 10, 2020 at 12:00 pm

      MY GRANDCHILDREN CALL ME “BABA” AND MY WIFE IS CALLED “MEMERE”

    • Jessie Fyfe | September 10, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      I have 6 grandchildren and they have given me 8 great-grandchildren and all but 2 of them call me Gibby!

      My first biological grandson started calling me Grammy and that is what his brother calls me as well.

      “Gibby” came from my eldest son’s twins when they were about 2 years old. One day, I needed to pick them and their mom up and the twins (a boy and a girl) got so excited to see me that they couldn’t quite get “Grammy” out. It came out as “Gibby” and I love that!

    • Connie Maillet | September 10, 2020 at 2:55 pm

      Our family is French and my grands call me Ami (French for friend)

    • Sally | September 10, 2020 at 3:44 pm

      I’m Grr. My first grandchild couldn’t say grandma when he was very little. He started calling me Grr. He is now 16 and still calls me Grr as well as his siblings, 10, 12, & 14 years old! My husband is Papa.

    • Elaine Haget | September 11, 2020 at 10:28 am

      My grandkids call me TuTu!

    • Maria Becker | September 11, 2020 at 11:07 am

      Abuelita is what my grandson calls me and I speak Spanish to him. I wish i could get him to answer in spanish but he seems to understand what I say to him. Thanks for this activity fun

    • Steven Luke | September 11, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      I am “Jelly Bean” The name came from my 1st Grandchild when she saw a large glass decanter on the coffee table full of jelly beans. She started calling me Grandpa Jelly Bean and it stuck and I love it. 21 years later am still Jelly Bean

    • Jim Baleno | September 11, 2020 at 6:12 pm

      I’m blessed with 5 grandchildren. 3 of the 5 call me grandpa. The other two, Both granddaughters the eldest Who is now 10, the other 5, call me Grumpy. Not because I am mind you. Sadly I can’t remember how it started but it is endearing and I love it each time I hear it.

    • Don Ellingson | September 11, 2020 at 7:09 pm

      “Farfar” One of a number of Norwegian words for grandfather.

    • Carolyn Manuel | September 12, 2020 at 3:08 am

      When my oldest grandchild was born, I called him “Woo-Dee-Woo” as he was so adorable, bright-eyed and just lovable. When he started to talk, he had a name for everyone but me. One day his mom called and told me he was talking about me and called me “Woo Woo”. I have been “Woo” for close to twenty years to all four of my grandchildren now!

    • Karen Burroughs | September 12, 2020 at 9:08 am

      My grandchildren call me Granny Gram..My great grandson calls me Gramiere..
      My late husband was Popo..

    • Mary Messer | September 12, 2020 at 9:12 am

      They chose grandma craft first because I make things. My grandson asked if I was a man because I burp like one so now they call me grandma burpy.

    • Joseph Benfatti | September 12, 2020 at 9:49 am

      I’m half Sicilian. My Granddaughter, who is now 13 years old….out of the blue……started calling me Wopa, Now I also have a 6 year old Grandson, and they both call me Wopa, which I thought was kinda cute. I have a decal in the rear window of my camper shell on my truck that says Wopa and also a hat.

    • Teresa Trujillo | September 12, 2020 at 10:01 am

      My older grandson, for years, called me “Ablita”, a version of Abuelita . When his younger brother, born 9 years later, started talking, he started calling me “Beeba”. Now the whole family calls me “Beeba” and I love it !

    • Susie Alegria | September 12, 2020 at 10:27 am

      To our grandkids, I am Lita and my husband is Lito. Short for the Spanish term ‘abuelita(o)’.

    • Jill Tsu | September 12, 2020 at 10:54 am

      I don’t remember any of my grandparents since my folks were older when I was born. so what a gift to have grandchildren.
      Nothing warms my heart more then a happy, excited greeting of ‘Grammy’ from my 2 and 5 yr old angels!

    • Mari Brown | September 12, 2020 at 11:12 am

      As a blended family there were three sets of grandparents. Early in my DIL’s first pregnancy she was adamant that each grandparent have their own identity. We all dutifully selected our names; Nonna and Nonno, Grand Mumsy, Grand Doug, Oma and Grandpa Griz. However, when our oldest grandson began to talk, three of the name selections, became obsolete. Grand Mumsy became Grumsie, Grand Doug became Doug-Doug, and my favorite was when Grandpa Griz became Man. When our grandson first started talking, he kept talking about Man. We had no idea what or who Man was until the day he was starting to put words together. He was by our pick up and he patted it and said “Ride in Man truck?” We have been blessed with two grandsons who are now in their teens and they still call their grandpa “Man”.

    • don | September 12, 2020 at 11:20 am

      Our first granddaughter named me Bubba and my wife Mimi. When our oldest daughter had her first child she name Pappy and was okay with Mimi for my wife. I like both names and it makes me feel special to each family.

    • Robin Dasch | September 12, 2020 at 11:41 am

      My first granddaughter had 3 sets of “Grandparents” so it was hard for her to tell who was who. She was about 3 when she started calling me Grandma Bird (a robin is a bird after all) and my husband is Grandpa Gary. She just celebrated her 17th birthday and still calls me Grandma Bird, and all the other grand kids do too! I even draw a little bird on all the cards or letters I send them as they now live in another state, I miss my babies!

    • Beth Castleberry | September 12, 2020 at 11:49 am

      I have 3 sons who gave me 5 lovely granddaughters. They call me Gram. My husband insisted on Granddaddy because he said he didn’t want them to be embarrassed by “some silly” name when they were older. He has passed away but they still all call him Granddaddy. Both names are precious to us.

    • LeeAnn Snook | September 12, 2020 at 11:50 am

      Our GrandChildren call Us GrandDaddy and GrandMommy. We have 6 GrandChildren that are all nearing 30 and just past 30 and They still call us GrandDaddy and GrandMommy – We also have 4 GreatGrandDaughters who are all toddlers

    • Terry Johnston | September 12, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      I called my grandmother Muzzy, I think it was because my mom introduced her mother to me as “this is my mother.” Apparently I couldn’t say mother so both grandmothers became Muzzy. Our grandchildren call us grandma and PopPop and our greatgrands call us Oma and Opa.

    • Joan H Zimmer | September 12, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      My grands and great-grands call me Z-Z for my last name since when the first two were born there were three grandmas and one of them insisted that SHE be called Grandma!!! The other went by Grams so I took Z-Z since everyone can say zzzzzz!

    • Kat Fessel | September 12, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      My children called my mother and father Memaw and Papa. When my children grew older they simply called my mother Meem. I had five sons and a stepdaughter. To their children I became Grammy Kat and my husband was Gumpy… A a combination of grumpy and grampy. The other grandmothers had glam names. The great grandmother became grandma Great. Since I was the only Grammy, they eventually shortened it and now I am just the one and only Gram! It is a name that I love above all others and a job no greater on this earth than being a grandmother!

    • Gloria Bailey | September 12, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      My granddaughter who is 8 calls me GiGi. GiGi was my family’s nickname for me growing up. Her other grandparents are Mim & Pop.

    • Janet Husgen | September 12, 2020 at 2:12 pm

      When my daughter in law was pregnant with our first grandchild, I use to talk to her pregnant belly by calling the baby “my little genius”. Up to the time she was about 4, she would call me grandma genius. Now I’m just grandma to her and her 2 siblings. I always will have fond memories of grandma genius!

    • Caren S Oliver | September 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

      They call me anything they want as long as they call me. My Grandson who just unfortunately graduated in 2020 (No graduation) calls me G’Ma and his grandfather G’Pa. My granddaughter who is 8 used to call me Grandma now calls me G’Ma probably because she hears my Grandson call me G’Ma and G’pa. They are from different daughters.
      However as I said I don’t care what they call me they are the dearest things in my life and because of the PANdamecic I don’t see them, so my dear grandchildren just call your “G’Pa and me.

    • Bruce P | September 12, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      When our granddaughter was born my wife wanted to be Nana, I wanted something special but could not come up with anything so just went with Grandpa. When our granddaughter started saying our names Nana worked fine but Grandpa came out BobBop, so that is what I now go by…got a special name after all.

    • Miriam Lukas | September 12, 2020 at 2:49 pm

      When our twin grandboys began to speak I just asked not to be called Granny but Nana or any other name they could say would be ok with me. We ended up to be Manana and Bobbo. Love those boys and those names!

    • Marilou | September 12, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      I am Gramsley, Granny, and Grandmother.

    • Gail Hakim | September 12, 2020 at 4:33 pm

      I have just one grandson who is a year and a half. My late husband’s family is Middle Eastern descent and they call Grandmothers Sitto. I like it and took the name. Love being called Sitto.

    • Joyce Hicklin | September 12, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      My grandkids and all their friends call me “Muppie”. Short for Mature Upbeat Person. I didn’t want to be called Grandma at 50 years old. They had a choice of Muppie or Lady Joyce. Needless to say Muppie it was. They all love it!

    • Roma | September 12, 2020 at 6:39 pm

      my grands call me “Gramabear “

    • Lori | September 12, 2020 at 8:08 pm

      My daughter and her husband just had a baby 2 weeks ago! Our first grand baby!! ❤️ My husband has known what he wants to be called forever after his most beloved grandfather- Pappy. I have no idea! Everyone keeps telling me I need to hurry and pick something unique. I’m still trying to figure it out! I feel bad that I don’t know.

      • Extra Mile Staff | September 14, 2020 at 7:57 am

        Congrats on the birth of your first grandchild! Maybe some of the other comments on this article will give you some good ideas!

    • Joyce | September 12, 2020 at 8:52 pm

      Mainly we are called Grandma and Grandpa; however, my youngest grandson one day decided to call me “Ittybitty”. Yes, I am on the smaller side. I’ve also been called Grammajamma as my initials are JAM. As one other person stated, it doesn’t matter what they call me as long as they call me.

    • Erna Zapatka | September 12, 2020 at 9:23 pm

      My son’s 2 boys call us Oma and Opa.

    • Maria Torre-Verdejo | September 12, 2020 at 10:58 pm

      My granddaughter calls me Gammy and she called my husband Awe. Don’t know where that came from but we both loved it.

    • Donna Stapleton | September 12, 2020 at 11:22 pm

      As a little girl I was called Donna Boo. When our daughter and son-in-law announced their pregnancy we were at a brunch with the other set of grandparents. We were asked what we wanted to be called. The other grands chose Mimi and Papa. My husband wanted Grandpa. I chose Boo. I am now Boo or Booie. I love it!

    • R. B. | September 13, 2020 at 12:12 am

      My great-grandchildren were getting so many grandpas that they decided to make a contraction of Grandpa and Roger and it became Groger.

    • Jeanne Conrad 1213 | September 13, 2020 at 5:42 am

      Such a charming article! Thanks.

    • Jeannie Ziomek Gionfriddo | September 13, 2020 at 7:40 am

      My only child ( my granddaughter) calls me Grammy. My children called my Dad Goga shortened to Gog, because they couldn’t pronounce the Polish would for grandfather! ( Dziadzia)

    • Crunch Hardtack | September 13, 2020 at 8:04 am

      Grandpa, although lately I go by “Titi” by my two little granddaughters. Titi is a name used in our family for anything small, cute, or cuddly. I call my granddaughters Titi, which kind of backfired, as they now call me Titi!

    • Adrienne Washington | September 13, 2020 at 9:49 am

      When my daughter was pregnant she asked me what do you want him to call you? I stated “I don’t care, I will let him figure that out when he starts to talk and give him the choice”. When he started talking, he called me nana and that stuck. He is now 5 years old and he knows who his great grandmother is (though she has passed) and he calls her great nana. There are times when he will introduce me as nana or this is my grandmother.

    • Moenik Blue | September 13, 2020 at 11:54 am

      My grandchildren call me OMA and my husband BUBBEE.

    • Janet Cianci | September 13, 2020 at 11:55 am

      Our five grandchildren call my husband Papa , Papa Steve, or Grampa, but they call me Gramma or Gramcracker…I love it!

      • Extra Mile Staff | September 14, 2020 at 7:51 am

        Janet – My children have also called my mother Graham Cracker! They have also at times called her G-ma and now mostly use Grandma.

    • Irene Varipatis Marzola-French | September 13, 2020 at 1:03 pm

      I am a 3rd generation Grandparent in my Greek family…..I have (had) 18 grandchildren and so far have 10 great grand children….I very proudly answer to Yiayia….enjoyed the article…

    • Kay Dahlstrom | September 13, 2020 at 1:16 pm

      I always wanted to be called “Gramma” before we had grandchildren. However, I realized later that I would have absolutely no say in the matter when our first grandchild was born. We lived 1000 miles away and our son-in-law’s parents lived much closer and had other grandchildren who called their grandmother, “Nana.” I really have no idea how this precious, adorable little girl ever came up with my ‘Grandparent Name,’ but she did; and even though both parents, as well as her aunt and uncle, thought it very amusing, I kept trying to get her to call me something else. Needless to say, she and four other grandchildren (all now in their 20’s and 30’s) still call me “Ninny” and I love it just because SHE named ME! Besides, how many ‘Ninny’s” do you really know?

    • Melissa Schell | September 13, 2020 at 2:42 pm

      I have 7 beautiful grand babies and I am known as Maamaw, pronounced like “baa”. It’s unique to our little family starting with my Mother.

    • Fely Magallanes | September 13, 2020 at 3:56 pm

      My mother-in-law, at 48, did not want to be called “Lola” [Filipino term for grandmother] although she may be referred to as the grandmother in conversations. She preferred “Mama” just like how her sons called her. Because of that my children called my mother “Nanay” [Tagalog for mother], the way my siblings and I called her. Both grandfathers loved to be “Lolo.”

      Due to this I considered family tradition, I preferred not to be called “Lola” as well. Like Grandma or Grammy as short for grandmother, ‘La is its Tagalog counterpart. So, instead of ‘La Fely, which is still grandmother-obvious, I coined “Lally.” Called or referred to, it remained Lally to my 7 grandchildren, ages 15 (tomorrow] to 31 and; 2 greats at 3 and 5 years old. I love it not because I got to coin it to my liking, but being just the grandma is so lovely and wonderful. Am I so blessed to have grandchildren! My husband, too, because my children had children early so that he experienced life with our daughter’s first grandson and our sons’ first granddaughters. My youngest grandson and the only one who carries the Magallanes last name was born on his Grampa’s 5th death anniversary — September 14 — he will be 15 at his Grampa’s 20th.

    • Lauren Holt | September 13, 2020 at 5:43 pm

      Our tradition is that the eldest grandchild gets to name the grandparents, subsequent grandchildren follow along with the “official name” chosen by #1. We begin by calling ourselves Granny and Grampy.

      My grandmother was Gee-nee, my daughter’s articulation was Gee-Gee, and I am Gee-nah, according to my 4.5 year old granddaughter. Amazing how similar all of our choices were, derivations of Granny came out 3 different ways in 1948, 1978 and 2016.

      Love them all and as the maternal grandmother ( all the others were too) it left the title of Grandma for the paternal grandmothers and thus far none of the 3 has failed to be delighted with that. Step-grands get Grandma or Grandpa followed by their first or last name as they choose.

    • ana cuadrado | September 13, 2020 at 10:27 pm

      When our first granddaughter started to talk she couldn’t say “abuelito and abuelita” so she started to call us Wito and Wita. When the second granddaughter came she repeated her sister so she also called us the same. Now even our children when they refer to us they also say Wito and Wita.

    • Carol | September 14, 2020 at 7:41 am

      I wanted to be meme’ but their paternal grandparents used that title and they were already established grand parents so I still wanted to be something other than grandma. I chose Nana. When the kids were young I did daycare and the little ones were calling me mommy so I had come up with something different so I chose Nana Carol. So when my grandchildren were born I reverted to Nana :). It’s easy to say and feels warm and fuzzy.

    • D. Green Joseph | September 14, 2020 at 8:48 am

      I had it all figured out and wanted to make my name simple and easy for my grandson to say early on! I thought “G” would be cool and appropriate, but little did I know, at age one and half – he decided my name would be “Ju-Ju”. It is still a mystery to all of us where this magical name came from. Who am I to dispute it! I Love it! 🙂

    • Carole and Neal Kersey | September 15, 2020 at 2:26 pm

      They call us Jammie and Papa.

    • Marlene | September 16, 2020 at 8:55 am

      I have only 1 special granddaughter, she started calling me Nana, and then at some point forgot that name and changed it to “Neena” , she is now in US Air Force and I love to get emails or a text to Neena…

    • Deborah McGaffey | September 22, 2020 at 10:18 am

      My grandchildren call me “G-Mama” and I love it! Whenever the oldest talks about me she says “My G-Mama” and it warms my heart like nothing else.

    • Dawn B | November 21, 2020 at 4:34 pm

      My grandson calls me Ganny

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