How To Say “Grandma” In Different Languages

4 July 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Unsplash: Honey Fangs

Grandmothers — aren't they just the best? One: they know how to bake a batch of really good chocolate chip cookies. Two: they also know how to make a very mean apple pie, and if you want vanilla ice cream on the side, that’s fine too. Three: they even know how to keep your secrets safe, which is a great thing because secrets are meant to be hush-hush and not to be broadcasted by parents for the world to hear. Yes, nothing can beat the essence and feeling of grandmother's favoritism as this affection is as constant as the northern star.

What you call your grandmother might be different from what I call mine. And, that’s okay because we all have specific, special names to call our grandmas. And where you live as well as the language you speak also play a part in what you call your grandmother. In fact, there are actually many factors that come into play when it comes to grandmother nicknames, that’s just the way it is. Alright, before the extra hullabaloo of words, are you curious to know what the rest of the world calls their grandmother?

  • English: grandma, grandmum, grandmother, gran, nan, nana
  • French: grand-mère, grand-maman, mamie, mémé
  • German: Großmutter (Grossmutter), Oma, Omi, Ömchen, Großmama (Grossmama)
  • Korean: 할머니 (halmeoni), 할매 (halmae), 할미 (halmi)
  • Japanese: ばあさん (baasan), おばあさん (obaasan), 祖母 (sobo)
  • Dutch: oma
  • Italian: nonna, nanna, nona, ava, nonnina
  • Russian: бабушка (babushka), Бабуся (babusya), Баба (baba), Бабка (babka)
  • Spanish: abuela, abuelita, abue, abu, nana, yaya
  • Polish: babcia, busia, bubi, babunia, babci
  • Greek: γιαγιά (yaya), παραμυθούλα (paramuthoula), γιαγιάκα (yayaka)
  • Tagalog: lola, nanang, nanay (can also mean “mother”), nana, nay
  • Vietnamese: bà
  • Swedish: mormor (to call your mother’s mother), farmor (to call your father’s mother)
  • Norwegian: bestemor, mormor (to call your mother’s mother), farmor (to call you father’s mother)
  • Brazilian Portuguese: avó, vovó, vovozinha
  • Chinese: 奶奶 (nǎi nai, to call your father’s mother), 外婆 (wài pó, to call your mother’s mother), 婆婆 (pópo, to call your mother’s mother), 姥姥 (lǎo lao, to call your mother’s mother), 祖母 (zǔ mǔ, to call your father’s mother)
  • Afrikaans: ouma
  • Swahili: nyanya, bibi
  • Hindi: दादी (daadee), नानी (naanee)
  • Indonesian: nenek, oma
  • Danish: bedstemor, mormor (to call your mother’s mother), farmor (to call your father’s mother)
  • Irish: maimeó