Grandparent Names: What Do Your Kids Call Your Grandparents?

Popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom shares her thoughts on Grandparent Names.

Lucille Evans Pack - Popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom shares her thoughts on Grandparent Names.

My question for you today: How did you/do you address your grandparents? And how do your kids address their grandparents?

I was thinking of this because of a birthday note that June received over the weekend. Along with a birthday card, my mom likes to include a little info on one of the kids’ ancestors — just a paragraph or two with maybe a photo. Sometimes it’s a long-ago relative that lived in another country many generations ago. But this time it was someone a bit closer, someone I spent lots of time with as a child — my mother’s mother, Lucille Evans Pack, or in other words, June’s great-grandmother.

In the little note, my mom referred to her as GiGi, which is what her great-grandkids called her. I think that’s so cute — G.G., as in Great Grandmother! I’m not sure who thought to call her that. As grandkids, we called her Grandma Pack, so the name GiGi was only part of my life as an adult. Did she request it? Did one of the great-grandkids start it? Did one of my cousins or siblings suggest it? Or maybe it was thought up by one of her kids (my aunts and uncle and mother).

It has me wondering, what will my grandkids call me and Ben Blair? What will their kids call our parents? I want it to be something fun.

How about you? Do you stick with the classic, Grandma & Grandpa [last name]? Or do you use something more unusual? Maybe something you inherited from another country or another language? Gamma? Grammy? Poppa? Gramps? And what do you want your grandkids or great-grandkids to call you? I’d love to hear! If it helps, I just did a search for “alternative names for grandparents” and found this cute list. After reading it, I’m thinking our grandkids should call us Bubba and Ace. (I get to be Bubba.)

P.S. — The photo at top is Grandma Pack, age 82, on a boat headed to Santorini. She and my mom came to visit me and Ben when we lived in Greece. She even rode a donkey on the steep island paths!

139 thoughts on “Grandparent Names: What Do Your Kids Call Your Grandparents?”

  1. I love this question! My maternal grandmother is “Nana” – which I think was her choice because her first name is Nancy. Now that I have kids, my mom is *their* “Nana” and her mom is “Gran Nan”

  2. Oh my goodness! My great-grandmother’s name was Lucille Evans! Lucille Eliza Wilgus Evans, to be exact. Oh, how I loved her! Such precious memories of going to her apartment, getting to watch TV and eat Vienna Sausage sandwiches on Wonder bread with mayo, and lemon-lime soda to drink! At home, we never had sugar or store-bought bread, or really, anything processed. I’ll be smiling all day today, thinking of her.
    Growing up, I referred to all of my grandparents as Grandma and Grandpa, except for one grandfather, whom we called Granddad. My children call my parents Grammy and Papa, and my husband’s parents, Grandma Judy and Grandpa Fred.

  3. My grandparents were always Grandma and Grandpa [last name]. Although my father’s father, who died a few months before I was born, is referred to as Granddad. As such, my father is Granddad to my daughter, and my mother is Grandma [last name]. My husband’s parents are Papa [first name] and Grandma [first name]. I joke about the fact that we can never buy off-the-shelf personalized grandparent stuff, because my daughter has no “Grandpa”, only Granddad and Papa [Name] (who doesn’t go by just “Papa”). My surviving Grandma is now Great-Grandma for my daughter. We have her 100th birthday to celebrate this summer!

  4. This is a great question! I have a Granny Doyle and Granny Corcoran and then a Grandad Brendan. When my great-grandmother was alive I used to call her Big Granny. I sometimes wonder what my parents will be called as grandparents but thinking of them at that ages quickly feels weird so I stop!

  5. This is a fun post. My grandparents and great grandparents on my dad’s side were MomMom & PopPop. On my mom’s side it was Grammy & Grandad. Then my stepdad’s parents were greek so they were YaYa and PaPou. On my husband’s side it is more formal. Greats were Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather and Grandmother and Grandfather and for our children they refer to their grandparents as just Grampa and Grandma (First Name). There are lots of grandparents for our children ! They just had to do their family trees for spanish class and lots of questions were raised. “Well, how come I have two Great Grandfathers?” My father passed when I was young and my mom remarried. My husband’s parents divorced and there have been new marriages on that side. We feel that they are so fortunate to have so many grandparents to love them. I miss mine every single day.

  6. My own grandparents were Grandpa (lastname) and Grandma (lastname). Which, now that I’m an adult and a parent, seems totally bizarre and formal! (Sadly they all died before I was 21 so I never knew any of them as an adult.) My MIL is Italian, so she goes by Nonna. My mom meant to be “Grammy” but the first grandchild made it “Mimi.” Kinda like your “Gigi”! And my dad goes by Papa.

  7. I call my grandparents Granny and Gramps! Granny picked it because she thought “Granny” sounds younger and hipper than “Grandma.” Not sure I agree, but the name fits her! I’m pregnant with my first child, and my parents are excited to decide what the baby will call them. “Mimi” is a popular alternative among my mom’s friends right now. I’ve also heard “Glamma” which I think is kind of silly :)

  8. Love this post! My kids call my mom Nan or Nanny and my dad Bob-o. My daughter started calling him that when she was very young. I don’t know what she was trying to say, but that’s how it came out and it stuck. All the grandkids call him Bob-o now. My husbands parents go by Papa and Me-Ma. Don’t really know how Me-Ma came about either. The one great grandparent that is still alive is known as Grandpa Great.

  9. My kids call one set of grandparents Grandma and Grandpa, and the other set Oma and Opa. One grandmother was worried about potential confusion and chose Oma and Opa for herself and spouse.

  10. Charlotte Coleman

    My husband and I are the grandparents of the three most adorable children on earth! Long before we had our own children, my husband decided that his grandchildren would call him Boss after reading the Faulkner novel, The Reivers. He worked diligently to teach the first grandchild how to say Boss. The next 2 just fell in line and now he is Boss. My initials are CC so I chose that as my “grandmother” name. We taught it to the grandchildren as well. Now we love being Boss and CC to three.

  11. For some reason, when my older sister was little she started calling my mom’s mom Ardie….we don’t really know where she got it. After that, my siblings and I all called her Ardie even though my cousins called her Grandma B! That has really influenced my thoughts now that I am a mom, in the fact that even if you want to be called something or other, a child may just come up with their own name :)

  12. I don’t kids yet, and my parents don’t have grandkids yet, so I’m curious to see what they’ll end up being called. We’ve always called my mom’s parents Nanny and Poppy (and occasionally Nanna). I can’t imagine calling them Grandma Betsy and Grandpa John- it sounds way to formal for them (maybe because I was and am so close to them). My dad’s mom died at the age of 57, before I was born. I’m not sure if any of my older cousins had a different name for her, but we’ve always referred to her at Grandma Nea (her full name was Geannea, pronounced “ja-nee-uh”). Her husband, my dad’s dad is still alive, and we’ve always called him Pappy (my oldest cousin called him this out of the blue, and it stuck- my grandpa, a pilot and Korean War vet, loved that it was the same name as a famous World War II pilot). He remarried not too long after my dad’s mom passed away, and we call her Grandma Jeri. I’ve always felt she needed a different name- her name seems so formal! Most of my great-grandparents were called the more formal names: Grandma Ogden (her last name), Grandma Iris (her first name), Grandpa Decker (last name), etc, but my mom’s beloved grandma (and my namesake) went by both Grandma Liz and Mimi.

  13. In Chinese, every family member has a title, relative to yourself, that specifies where in the family tree they fall, which really helps at big extended-family gatherings where there are lots of aunts & uncles! For my maternal grandparents, I would called my grandma “wai-pwoh” & grandpa “wai-gong” and my paternal grandparents would be “nai-nai” and “yeh-yeh” (those are just phonetic spellings, btw). Even sisters & brothers have different titles to signify if they are older or younger than you :) Here’s a youtube video that explains it all. Also, it’s customary to address each relative by their title whenever you see them, in place of saying “hi”, which is why, in the video, the woman asks if the guy knows what to call them :) All that is to say that if you are Chinese, there’s no question of what you will be called by your grandkids ;)

      1. ….except it can get even more complicated. Different regions of China and Taiwan has different names for grandparents. My dads side of the family came from a different region than my moms while my parents were technically raised in Taiwan. That means there are a lot of different sets of grandparents names they can choose from for themselves for my daughter. “Lau Lau and Lau Yei” “Wei po and Wei gong” “Ah po and Ah gong” – they settled on the first. (My daughter also has to learn the Korean terms “Halmoni and Halapoji” for my husbands parents) What a beautiful mess! :)

        1. High 5! I’m from a mixed background myself so my kids also need to know the different terms for different branches of our family. It can get really complicated but I love it though! And hope they keep at it :)

  14. I always called by grandparents Grammy (last name) and Grampy (last name). As someone else responded, it seems formal to me now. We hadn’t had any great plans for what our own kids would call our parents and they didn’t seem to have a preference. Nanny and Grampy turned out to be the names they could pronounce. My son (who loves) cars, named one Grampy Garage and the other Grampy RV based on what he likes to see at each house :) The names stuck and now I refer to them like that too.

  15. Jewish people typically use Bubbe and Zayde. We don’t though not sure why but we have the youngest grandchild on the jewish side so it was determined before use. We use Gammy and Poppa and Nanny and Poppy

  16. What a great question! My husbands grandparents are known as Marnie (her) and Dee (him) which are names they chose for themselves after deciding they didn’t really want to be Grandma and Grandad. I kinda love that they just took the opportunity to rename themselves! My own grandparents on one side were Grandma/Grandad [first name] and the other Grandma/Grandad [last name]. I’ve always wondered why one side got first names and the other last!

  17. My family is all French Canadian, so growing up, we had multiple sets of Memere and Pepere with the grandparents and great grandparents. My parents are now Memere and Pepere to my boys, and I know I will be a Memere as a grandmother. But I wonder if I will be the last generation to be called that in my line of the family. I know my husband won’t be a Pepere since that’s not his heritage, so if he is not, I would be surprised if my sons went with Pepere when they become grandfathers many, many years from now.

  18. My Mom REALLY wanted to be called Grandma. She thought the name was an honorific and she was thrilled when her first grandchild was born. She would call my niece on the phone and say, “It’s your happy Grandma!” So my niece started calling her…Happy! Now everyone calls her Happy, even her friends.

    1. Something very similar happened to my aunt! She always calls her grandkids “honey” so now they call her Grandma Honey, which just melts my heart. I love that the kids had a little hand in giving grandma a name (within her boundaries). Happy Grandma!

      1. How funny…on my mom’s birthday when my daughter was just learning to talk, we made a video to send her and I said I the background, “Say ‘Happy Birthday Grammy Goo Goo…'” No good reason other than talking silly to my daughter. She said “Happy..Goo Goo!” And then just kept repeating it and that’s what my mom was called from then on! Just very recently we seem to be calling her Grandma or Grammy more often…

      2. My son went to an in-home daycare from the age of 9 months – 2 years. Miss Vera was the owner/operator, and she answered the door with tears of laughter when I came to pick up my son. She said, “Jett started calling my husband Honey!” My first husband and I split when my son was about 18 months old, and he’d never heard us refer to one another with pet names, so since Vera called her husband, Ray, Honey, Jett just assumed Ray’s name was Honey!

  19. I love this question!

    My kids call their paternal Grandparents :
    GG (Grandma Gayle) and GJ (Grandpa Joel)

    Materal Grandparents us the Thai traditional (even though my dad is Irish!) :
    Khun Yai (maternal grandmother) and Khun Tha (maternal grandfather)

    But I found that my generation used the first or last name of the grandparent! For example, I had: Grandma Ruth, Grandma Thorne, and Grandpa (only one grandpa was alive when I was a kid) Husband had Grandma Clementine, Grandma Blair, Grandpa Joel

  20. The granddaughters call my dad “Boompa” and my mom “Nana”. My mom was jealous of the coolness of Boompa’s name and for a while tried to switch her name to “Boowah”. But my dad quickly turned into bourgeoisie (Bougie for short!) so it was super short lived. :-)

  21. My kiddo calls my husband’s mother, Grandma Kitty. Before she could talk, when she wanted to video chat with her grandma or saw her picture, she would make the sign for kitty because grandma always showed her the kitties when they talked via FaceTime. She calls my husband’s father PopPop because he would pop his cheek with his finger and again she’d try to emulate this when she saw pictures of him or wanted talk with him. Those names stuck and I love that she essentially named them for herself.

    1. The little girls I used to babysit called their grandparents Grandma & Grandpa Kitty and Grandma & Grandpa Donkey (for the animals they had I guess)…so funny!

  22. My maternal grandparents are Nannie and Grandad, and so that’s what my parents are now to my kid. Although, my dad wanted to change his name to Biscuit after moving to Tennessee, not sure where that came from…

    One of my aunts chose a very unique name for her grandkids to call her: Beezer! She loves it!

    1. Was the change of name successful? Was it too late once he was already Grandad? I do love Beezer! Reminds me of Ouiser on Steel Magnolias!

  23. My mother in law is Italian so my kids call her Nonna. My niece couldn’t remember great one day when referring to her great-grandma, so she called her Super Nonna. We have adopted Super Nonna and Super Papa for the great grandparents ever since!

    1. Omg! I called my grandmom Ajji (indian), so my daughter started calling her SuperAjji. She’s the oldest grandchild, so it stuck! Even though my mom chose a different name for herself- Naani.

  24. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    My parents’ first Grandchild could not say Grandma. It was Bama. So for my kids they are Papa and Bama. Now my mom is Bama or Bam. When we are referring to them together as a unit they are Papabam.

  25. My great-grandmothers were Nawnee and MawMaw. My grandparents were Grandma/Grandpa and Nanny on my dad’s side, she was widowed so I didn’t have a name for my Grandfather. Now my mom wants to be Grandma. My grandparents are now Grandma and Grandpa Taylor (last name). It is a funny cycle.

  26. My own grandparents are Grandma & Dziadziu (ja-ju) which is Polish for grandpa. Now that I have a daughter who is 1.5 and interested in extended family and learning to speak she’s coming up with such sweet pronunciations of the names. Their official names are Grandma/Grandpa (very tradition for this side) and the other is Bachi (again Polish) & Granddad (being pronounced Dad-did or did-dad).

    1. I grew up with a Babci and Dziadziu too on my Polish side! I was surrounded by a Polish community growing up so didn’t realize how uncommon it was until I moved away from home. When I had my first child, both mothers were picking what they wanted to be called, and my mother was hoping for Babci. Well, my son had other plans – he came up with Ama (no idea where this came from). We distinguish between the Amas by inserting the name of their state after Ama (Ama New Jersey, Ama Connecticut). The name stuck!

  27. My grandmothers were MeMa and NaNa – I was the first grandchild and apparently I came up with both names on my own. I have heard of several others who use both names and I think they are just easy for a small human to say : )

  28. I love this post and comment thread! It came at a perfect time, since my kids’ school just had their Grandparent’s Day event last Saturday. I helped organize, which included assembling portraits and quotes about grandparents, and so was privy to some really awesome grandparent names. We had a Gheebee, a Fireman Papa, a few Nonnas, a Mimi, and lots of other really sweet, endearing names.

    In our family my grandparents were Grandma and Grandpa [last name]. My stepmom’s dad was Bumpa. My husband’s grandmother has always been called GiGi (despite her first name actually being Anne). My mom chose to be Nana, my dad is Papa, and my stepmom is Grandma Barbara. My husband’s dad is Popi.

  29. I called my mom’s mom and dad, Papaw Cecil and Gramaw Carol (first names) and my dad’s parents Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Harold (first names), my mom and dad wanted to be Mamaw and Papaw, but my son had other ideas…when my son was first born, my mom’s health was fragile, so she had to wear a blue mask…so she called herself Blue Gramaw…he talked early (4/5 mos) and used to call her Blue…at 1 year, she was allowed to remove the mask for good and he started calling her Mimi…no matter how many times she said mamaw…so Mimi stuck. :) On my husbands side, she has a Mamaw Cheryl and a Papaw Dan (his parents), then my MIL parents are Mamaw Smith & Papaw Smith (last names) and my FIL adopted parents are Gramaw Lorna and Pap Charlie (first names), so we are all over the board on first and last names. I called my Grandma Carol’s mom Mamaw Nina (first name) to distinguish the Great from the Grandma. My 4yo daughter says she’s a grandma already…so no clue what that makes me…LOL.

  30. My daughter was the oldest grandchild on both sides – and it was the biggest struggle for all the grandparents to decide what they wanted to go by. My mom settled on Oma for the Swiss/German heritage in our family and my dad just goes by grandpa. My grandma was named Louise and I always just called her Lulu. I love that name! My friends mom is named sherry – so when she first had grandchildren she said she would just be Grandma Sherry. The kids couldn’t say that very well so they called her Ma Sherry. It sounds like they are calling their grandma “ma chère” which I think is so sweet!

  31. My mom is Nana to the girls. Or rather, was. As a joke, years ago my husband started calling my dad Manna… like, the man version of Nana. However, when Cora was referring to them, we could never differentiate who she was talking about because the two names sounded so similar. This frustrated her to the point where, when Cora was about two, she just started calling my dad Two-Nana, so of course my mom evolved into One-Nana. The kids have been calling them that for three years now, and it still cracks me up. The other grandparents are ChiChi, PawPaw, and Belle.

  32. I called my great grandfather GG as well. Now my kids call their great grandfather GG and their great grandmother DD (we had to come up with an alternate letter combo ;). They call their maternal grandmother Gammy (which is what I call my grandmother) and their paternal grandfather grand pere as he is French speaking. Since we live down the street from my grandparents we often get confused because I call her Gammy, they call her DD and call my mother Gammy…

  33. My kids have grandad & grandmum on my side and babcia & jadek (Polish) on my husbands side. When we have grandkids will will be nana & papa.

  34. Growing up, we stuck with “grandma and grandpa [last name]”, but as I got older, I found that my grandparents just named themselves! Pawpaw, Memaw (they’re from the south) and interestingly, my grandpa changed his nickname from grandpa jack to ‘grandad’ after my grandma passed away when he was about 85. Maybe he found it more youthful! He’s 97 now and still rocking the “grandad” title :)

    My boyfriend’s grandparents are Granny Sally and Grandbud– I’m not sure what his first name actually is, but his nickname is Bud, and grandbud just fits so well!

  35. *If* I got to choose I think I would have gone with Gigi, my sister did that with her grandkids -adorable, and fits her perfectly. That said, other grandkids were already in the mix with the in laws so we kind of fell into our names. All our grandkids call us Gramma Penni and Grampa John, while the other side of the fence gets Papa Joe and Gramma Beth; another set get Gramma Kim & Papa, and another set use Nana and Papa.

    I heard an interview with Leslie Stahl on NPR this weekend, who goes by ‘Lolly’ to her husband’s “PopPop’.

  36. Love this — my mom literally “called” Nana, she was like “I want to be called Nana so no one else can.” haha Grandpa is Papa because she could pronounce grand! I might switch to bubba and ace just to get a good laugh!

  37. I had one set of grandparents as a kiddo, so they were Grandma and Grandpa (sometimes Grandpop). Then my dad remarried and I got a second set of grandparents via my stepmom, and they quickly became “Grandma Ada” and “Grandpa Joe”.

    When my mom was about to become a grandmother for the first time herself, she thought “grandma” sounded old and was thinking about having my nephew call her “Nana Dana” instead. Well, the kiddo settled on “Gamma” and my dad is now “Pop-pop,” so ultimately, I think it depends on what the kiddos can manage to call you. My mom wasn’t too upset–she quickly decided it didn’t matter what she was called, as long as she got to spend time cuddling her grandbabies.

  38. On my side of the family, it is Grandma/Grandpa and thus Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa. On my husband’s it is Grammie and Granddaddy— thus Great-Grammie and Great-Granddaddy (there has never been more than on “great” set surviving on each side so no confusion about that, sadly).

  39. My kids call my mother Nana. We were not planning that, but they sort of took to that name and my mom liked it. My mother-in-law is called Nanny. She wanted to be called that because that is what she called her grandmother. However, she is Italian so I expected her to be called Nonna. I think it is unusual, but since that is what she wanted it is what my kids started to say. I just said the usual grandma and grandpa with my grandparents!

    1. I should mention though, where we live in West Virginia, everyone calls their grandparents MawMaw and PawPaw. It sounds so strange to me, but it is what everyone says.

  40. sandy johnson

    In my family the grandkids (my children) called my parents Grandma and Grandpa. My husband’s parents lived out of state and were not seen as often as mine. My kids called my husband’s parents Grandma Gladys and Grandpa that seemed to separate the two couples to them. When my sister and I became grandmothers, it was confusing to the great grandkids at family gatherings with all the “Grandmas”, so my mother became Grams (my dad passed away before that became an issue).

  41. My dad is called “Rabbit” and my mom is called “Bee.” The respective animals decorate their home in pictures, figurines, dish towels, and dinnerware. The funny thing is that close friends, even other children, often ask my dad if they can call him “Rabbit.” Most people take their own liberties to call my mom “Bee.”

    I gave my dad his nickname as a young child. It had something to do with Easter and a daily gift of Cadbury Chocolate by my bed each morning. This lasted for a week. I was forever endeared to him and Cadbury Chocolate. When the first grandchild was on the way, Dad announced that Rabbit would be his grandfather name. We tried “Bunny” for my mom, but it was quickly shortened to “Bee.”

  42. I don’t have kids yet but my nephews call my parents the Welsh names Nain (pronounced Nine) and Taid (pronounced Tide). The kids don’t even live in Wales but it’s the one bit of Welsh that they’ve taken with them to England!

  43. Eleanor Frances

    My grandchildren call me Tootsie or Toots. My first grandchild was due to arrive right before Obama’s 1st presidential election. His maternal grandmother, who played a major role in his upbringing, died the day before the election. He called her the Hawaiian “Tootsie”, so my daughter in law and I decided to use it too. I love the name and I love Obama.

  44. Elizabeth R.

    I don’t have kids but my sister just had twin boys. My Mother wants to be called Honey and my Dad will be Pops. Their other grandmother is Nan (her real name is Nancy) and their other Grandpa is just Grandpa. I have heard of GiGi before too.

  45. Elizabeth R.

    Oh and we call my maternal Grandparents Mimi and Bop-Bop because my sister muddled up up Pops.

  46. My older daughter (the first grandchild on my side) called my dad “pa” before she had a name for my mother. When she next looked at my mother and made a sound, my mother declared she said “Grackie” and that became her grandmother name. She is Grackie to her grandkids and Greg-grandkids. Mi use my first name. It is unusual and close to the German name for grandmother so it works. When my older granddaughter, was in kindergarten, her teacher asked her what a homa was?

  47. My daughter and her cousins call my mother “Lita,” as in short for “abuelita.” (We don’t speak Spanish, but my mother was a Spanish teacher for years, so that’s what she chose.) My Dad is “Poppy,” for no real good reason. :)

    My daughter called my grandparents “Granny the Great” and “Grandma the Great,” respectively. :)

    K.

  48. It’s funny, all of the grandparents are “Gramma” and “Grampa” with the exception of my mother, who is Mormor, which is Swedish for grandmother.

  49. We live in an RV, so we are called Grandma and Grandpa RV by our grandsons. My ex is Grandpa NY and the southern grandparents are MeMaw and Papa. My friend is called Ninja by her grandkids, not sure where that one came from!

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