Finding the Perfect Grandma Name

Traditional, Modern, Chic, or Cultural

Learning that one is to become a grandmother is one of those watershed moments in a person’s life. Your child bringing another life into the world is beyond exciting. And taking on the role of grandma typically is a joyful transition. Usually, the grandmother-to-be begins to wonder almost immediately about what to choose as their grandma name.

Of course, you can just go with Grandma but there are lots of other choices as well. Learn more about how to find the perfect grandmother name, including lots of possible options to get you started on finding the right name for your grandchild to call you.


6 Things to Consider When Picking a Grandma Name

How to Choose a Grandmother Name

Grandmothers today have more choices than ever when it comes to picking a name. They can stick with the traditional. They can choose a name that is associated with a particular ethnicity, nationality, or another cultural group. They can choose a more hip grandmother name. They can even make up their own name.

It's good to get the approval of the parents-to-be, of course. And a grandchild can prove to be a dissenting voice, choosing a name that's quite different from the selected one. Or they simply can't pronounce the chosen name and end up saying a variation that everybody loves. That's almost always all right with the grandmother!

Choosing a grandmother name

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Traditional Grandma Names

Many families use the same traditional grandmother name over and over. Or they switch off between generations, using the name they called their own grandma. Others introduce small variations. Such variations are useful, for example, to differentiate between a grandmother and a great-grandmother. For example, a family may modify Grannie to Gran-Gran or Grannie B to distinguish between the generations. 

Most of these names have been around seemingly forever.

  • Gammy or Gamma or Gams
  • Gram or Grams
  • Gramma
  • Grammy or Grammie
  • Grandma or Grandmaw
  • Grandmama
  • Grandmom
  • Grandmother
  • Grannie or Granny
  • Gran or Gran-Gran
  • Marmee or Marmi
  • Mammy
  • Mema or MeMa or Mima

Names That Are Particular to Certain Groups

Some grandmother names are especially prevalent in a particular geographical region or ethnic group. For example, the American South is known for its unique names for grandmothers and other relatives. Here are some names that are popular in certain groups or parts of the country. However, if one speaks to you, you can certainly use it.

  • Big Mom or Big Momma
  • Honey
  • Lovey
  • Lolly
  • Ma or Maw
  • MaMaw or Mawmaw
  • Memaw or MeeMaw or Mimaw
  • Mom-Mom
  • Queenie
  • Sassy
  • Sugar
  • Sweetie
  • Two-Mama (like a second mama)

Modern Grandma Names

Some grandmothers feel that they don't fit the mold of the typical grandmother and seek a more modern or creative grandmother name. Sometimes, these grandmothers are younger than average, sometimes they are hip grandmothers, or they simply want grandmother names that capture their personalities. Some try just going by their given name, but someone — a grandchild or other family member — usually ends up bestowing a nickname.

Another option is using Mama before the given name or putting a twist on the first name, For example, Christine becomes Mama Chris or Chrissy or Chris Chris.

The adoption of a cool grandmother name is something of a trend among baby boomer grandparents. The following are just a few of the names they have adopted.

  • Abba
  • Amma
  • Babe
  • Bamba or Bama
  • BeBe
  • Bella or Belle
  • Birdy or Birdie
  • Bunny
  • CeeCee or Cici
  • Coco
  • Gabby or Gabbi
  • Gadgy or Gadgi
  • GiGi
  • GoGo or Gogi
  • G-Ma or G-Mom (also spelled Geema or Geemom)
  • Glamma or Glammy
  • Grancy or Grancie
  • Kitty
  • LaLa
  • MayMay
  • Mia
  • Mimi
  • Nina
  • Pippy or Pippa
  • Teenie or Teeny

Grandma in Other Languages

Some grandmothers choose names favored by different nationalities or cultures, either because the names reflect their heritage or simply because they like the way they sound or have a special affinity to that culture. You don't have to be Italian to be a Nonna!

In most countries, there are several different terms for grandmother. Some are formal, and some are informal. Some are used to refer to a grandmother, and some are used in terms of direct address. It can be very difficult to figure out which words are most commonly used by children as names for their grandmothers.

In addition, many of these names appear in several variations and spellings, especially if they come from a language that uses a different alphabet. Consider this list as a starting point for doing more research.

  • Afrikaans: Ouma
  • Albanian: Gjyshja
  • Chinese: Nainai
  • Danish: Bedstemor
  • Filipino: Lola
  • Flemish: Bomma
  • French: Grandmère
  • French Canadian: Mémé
  • German: Oma
  • Greek: Yiayia
  • Hawaiian: Tutu
  • Hebrew: Savta
  • Indonesian: Nenek
  • Italian: Nonna
  • Japanese: Oba-chan
  • Korean: Halmeoni
  • Lithuanian: Senelė
  • Maori: Kuia or Te Kuia
  • Polish: Babcia
  • Portuguese: Vovó
  • Russian: Babushka
  • Somali: Ayeeyo
  • Spanish: Abuela
  • Yiddish: Bubbe

When Children Have Multiple Grandparents

Many children today have more than one grandmother. Indeed, through stepfamily relationships, some have half a dozen. For grandchildren who have more than one grandmother, some families choose to add the given name or the last name to the grandparent name, arriving at combinations such as Gramma Jean or Grandma Brown. The same can be done with any grandparent name, as in Nonna Sue or Nana Bette.

Each grandmother can also choose their own unique name, so that a child may have a Grandma, Bubba, Yaya, and Tutu. This works especially well if each grandmother hopes to use a different name. It can be more challenging if more than one has their heart set on the same one. In this case, differentiating them with an initial, given, or last name, or using slight variations can help to make everyone happy.

However, grandparent names can spark family conflict, so it is worth spending some time thinking about your choices and discussing these options openly with all involved. Aim to find a middle ground so that everyone ends up with a name that they are happy to be called.

Changing Your Grandmother Name

Grandmothers should not become too attached to their chosen names. Grandchildren will change your life, and they just might change your carefully selected grandmother name. They might accidentally call their grandma something else, everybody laughs, and then the child keeps saying it until it sticks. Most grandmothers, however, embrace with joy whatever name comes from the lips of their grandchildren.

Occasionally, grandmothers themselves decide to change their names. That is perfectly acceptable, but if you have been known by a certain appellation for a while, be prepared for others to have some trouble making the switch. But if you really don't like the name you're being called, feel free to come up with an alternative. It can be helpful to explain why the old name bothers you and what you like about the new one. Then, gently remind your child and grandchild about your choice until the new name sticks.

More Resources

If you are still undecided about which grandmother name suits you, there's nothing wrong with waiting until after the baby is born and you actually are a grandmother. You'll learn more about your grandparenting style and perhaps find just the perfect name. The child's other grandmothers or grandfathers will also be considering what names they want to be called. You can reach out to them to brainstorm, which might illicit options you hadn't thought of—but truly love.

Of course, if you wait long enough, your grandchild or child may simply pick out your nickname for you. Consulting books about grandparent names is another strategy to consider. "You Can Call Me Hoppa" is a great one to take a look at.

A Word From Very Well

Some people know right off the bat what they'd like to be called when they become a grandmother, while others aren't sure. Either way, what really matters is the loving bond that develops between grandparents and their grandchildren. So, if you're not attached to any particular name, don't worry, once your grandchild starts using one, you'll most likely be happy with the name. And, if not, you can always switch to another name.

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Reader's Digest. How to Say Grandma and Grandpa in Different Parts of the World.

By Susan Adcox
Susan Adcox is a writer covering grandparenting and author of Stories From My Grandparent: An Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild.