View Full Version : Ethnic nicknames for grandparents

03-15-2011, 09:43 PM
Being a plain white bread American, I always called them Grandma and Grandpa. But in my story, the grandma in question is Chinese. Can anyone help?

And since I'm a sucker for trivia, what other pet names are there for grandparents?

Chris P
03-15-2011, 09:47 PM
Here in the south, "Poppy" is common for grandfathers, as is Paw Paw.

03-15-2011, 09:52 PM
Bobe (pronounced boo-be) and zeyde (zey-deh) are Yiddish for grandmother and grandfather.

Calla Lily
03-15-2011, 09:57 PM
Nana and Papa for Italians, at least in our neighborhood.

Lyra Jean
03-15-2011, 10:02 PM
I called my grandfather pop-top. My parents said it was supposed to be pop-pop but I could never pronounce that second pop.

My husband's grandmother is called Bela pronounced bella. It's short for the Spanish word abuela which means grandmother.

03-15-2011, 10:22 PM
I had a Chinese neighbour who called her grandmother Nai Nai. She was her grandmother from the father's side. They have a different name for their maternal grandmother though and sadly, I don't know what it is.

03-15-2011, 10:36 PM
German family here - grandparent nicknames are 'Oma' and 'Opa'.

03-15-2011, 10:41 PM
Na-Na (rhyming with "ha ha") for my mother's father, and Na-Nee for my mother's mother (Indian family).

03-15-2011, 10:46 PM
Kids often make up their own names for grandparents, too. Apparently I used to call my grandparents Meemod and Peapod.

I might have been a little weird.

03-15-2011, 10:56 PM
I called my Grandmother Bobchi. It's Polish. Bobcia is actually the correct spelling, I believe, but I didn't know any better as a child.

ETA: I'm sure you've found this already, but for your purpose I found the following online (grandparents.com). I do not know if they are correct, but it's a start:

Cantonese Paternal - Ngin

Cantonese Maternal - PoPo
Mandarin Paternal - Zumu
Mandarin Maternal - Wi p

Cantonese Paternal - Yeh Yeh
Cantonese Maternal - Gong Gong
Mandarin Paternal - YeYe
Mandarin Maternal - Wai Gong

03-15-2011, 11:08 PM
My mother is Korean, and the words are:


But I call my grandma Oma (um-ma), which is actually what you call your mother. But I call my mom "mom". I last saw my grandfather over 20 years ago, and I don't remember what I called him.

03-15-2011, 11:14 PM
'Chinese' = Mandarin? Cantonese?

I call my maternal grandma 'Popo'. My mom's family is from southern China and speaks Taishanese(?) - dialect of Cantonese. Taishanese is the language of 'old' Chinatown. Most of the Chinese immigrants to Toronto (and probably North Americna in general) that arrive early on (say pre 1960 or 1970) were from this area of China. But it is no longer a common language in Chinatown here.

Can't really help you out more than that though as that's practically all the Chinese I know.

03-16-2011, 12:12 AM
My Italian husband calls his grandparents Nonna and Nonno. When I was very small, we sometimes used to call our grandparents Dai and Mai, which I think is quite particular to English Romani - I know the formal terms are Puro dai and Puri mai

03-16-2011, 05:03 AM
Swedish heritage here. We use "Mor" and "Far" in combination to refer to grandparents.

Farmor = Father's Mother
Mormor = Mother's Mother
Farfar = Father's Father
Morfar = Mother's Father

Smiling Ted
03-16-2011, 05:34 AM
Being a plain white bread American, I always called them Grandma and Grandpa.

Now, Carla, "plain white-bread Americans" are as much of an ethnicity as anyone else.

It's just that we are other ethnicities are poorer, cooler, funnier, and more musical.

And our food is usually more spicy.;)

03-16-2011, 07:14 AM
Purely off the wall, but my nephew first called his grandmother Company (because his Dad apparently said she was good company). He eventually grew out of it, but the transition to Grandma was hard. Puma

03-16-2011, 04:08 PM
Gran, Granny, Gramps, Grandad, Grampaw.

03-16-2011, 04:14 PM
I can't help with ethnic nicknames, but I can vouch for families where the normal name isn't used. Everyone in my family - and I mean everyone including his own children, called my great grandad Gadge - a sort of bastardisation of a Roma word, because that's what all his Roma friends called him in his rebellious youth.

Might this help...


03-17-2011, 12:36 AM
Nanny and papa and granny and grandda.

03-17-2011, 04:31 AM
Mimi and Bumpa.

From another white-breaded American of such mixed ethnicity it doesn't even matter anymore.

03-17-2011, 05:07 AM
Nanny and Pappy are the names we use in my family on my mother's side, and Grandma and Grandpa in my father's family.

Some friends of mine when I was kid called their mother's parents Meemaw and Pawpaw.

03-17-2011, 05:20 AM
Southern African American here and I called my grandmother Nan.

My kids call my stepfather Paw-Paw and my mother GrandNan.

03-17-2011, 06:19 AM
Greek grandma: Yia-yia
Greek grandpa: Papou

03-17-2011, 06:27 AM
My grandpa is from Russia, call them Oma and Opa.

In-laws are from Mexico, my kids call them Abuelita and Abuelo.

03-17-2011, 06:46 AM
Japanese, not very polite (especially the first ones, little kids often use these):
grandpa - jiji or (nicer) ojiichan
grandma - baba or (nicer) obaachan

grandpa - dziadzio
grandma - babcia

03-17-2011, 06:52 AM
hungarian: nagypapa and nagymama

03-17-2011, 09:34 PM




03-18-2011, 07:00 PM

Maternal Grandfather/grandmother: Nana / Nani
Paternal Grandfather/grandmother: Dada / Dadi

03-18-2011, 09:40 PM
I've heard several (Southern) African-Americans use:

Grandmother = Big Ma or Big Mamma or Ma'Dear (for Mother Dear)

Grandfather = Big Daddy or Big Poppa or just Poppa


03-22-2011, 12:12 AM
I was going to post the Swedish terms but it has already been covered, so, I'll post Norwegian instead. :)

Bestemor = Grandmother
Bestefar = Grandfather

"Beste" means "the best". I like that.

03-22-2011, 04:14 AM
Grandmother: Safta
Grandfather: Saba.

Grandmother: mom
Grandfather: cousin.

03-22-2011, 01:21 PM
My brothers kid calls his Chinese (Cantonese) grandmother "ma" which means "horse". He also calls his auntie this. I've been told that "ma", depending on intonation can mean a wide variety of things, so I may be missing some of the story.

03-22-2011, 06:10 PM
I called my grandparents "Granny" which has UK and Irish roots; it's what she wanted to be called with her heritage and "Pop". I called the other set - more white bread Americans, Grandma and Grandpa by their choice.

My kids call my mother "GeGe" which was their own word; they called my dad "PaBoomp", again their own creation.

03-22-2011, 09:41 PM
I'm Filipino and grandma = lola, grandpa = lolo

03-22-2011, 10:02 PM
Czech: My grandmother was called Babi, short for Babicka. (There should be a hook over that c but I don't know how to create it.)

03-23-2011, 06:32 PM
My children have a set of German grandparents, so that's Oma, sometimes Omi for grandma and Opa for grandpa.