How to Say Grandma and Grandpa In Different Parts of the World

No matter what they're called, they're loved the world over. Here are some common ways people say "grandma" and "grandpa" around the globe.

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Senior woman embracing granddaughter while sitting at yard
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Grandma: Mormor (maternal), Farmor (paternal)

Grandpa: Morfar (maternal), Farfar (paternal)

“In Sweden, it is made clear if the grandparent is on the mother’s side or on the father’s side,” says tour guide, Adeodata Czink. In the Swedish language, the maternal grandparents are “mormor” for grandmother and “morfar” for grandfather. Paternal grandparents are “farmor” for grandmother, and “farfar,” for grandfather.

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Grandson with Grandfather
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Grandma: Nani (maternal), Dadi (paternal)

Grandpa: Nana (maternal), Dada (paternal)

“In our Indian culture, ‘nani’ is maternal grandmother, and ‘dadi’ is paternal. ‘Nana’ is maternal grandfather, and ‘dada’ is paternal,” shares Lisa Batra, is a first-generation Indian with two kids of her own. The busy entrepreneur is also founder of My Kid’s Threads. “The origins of these words go back to the ancient Urdu language,” she says.

In Telugu, another popular Indian dialect, grandmothers are known as “awa,” and grandfathers as “tata.”

According to Indian Child, the role of Indian grandparents in their grandchildren’s lives is paramount, whether they live in India, or elsewhere. Grandparents help to bridge the gap between the traditional and modern, bringing a sense of culture to the household.

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Grandmother holding and hugging her cute baby granddaughter
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Grandma: Satva, Bubbe, Nonna, Avuela

Grandpa: Saba, Zayda, Nonno, Avuelo

In the land of milk and honey, grandparents are called by many names. In Hebrew, one of the official languages of Israel, grandma is called “savta,” and grandpa, “saba.”

Jews with roots in Eastern Europe, known as Ashkenazi Jews, sometimes prefer the Yiddish version, “bubbe” for grandmother, and “zayda” for grandfather.

Sephardic Jews, who trace their roots back to the Iberian Peninsula of the late 1500s, typically use the Ladino terms— “nonna” or “avuela,” for grandmother, and “nonno” or “avuelo” for grandfather, according to Kveller. The Peninsula’s proximity to Spain is why the Ladino translation sounds so similar to the grandma and grandpa terms, used in that country.

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Grandfather playing with his granddaughter on the beach
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Grandma: Abuela/Abuelita

Grandpa: Abuelo/Abuelito

In Spain, as in most Spanish-speaking countries, grandparents are most often referred to with the formal titles of “abuela” (grandma) and “abuelo” (grandpa). Informal versions are also popular, “abuelita”, which translates into little grandma, is a common term of endearment and for grandpas, “abuelito” is often used to show great affection.

Grandparents Day in Spain is celebrated on July 26th, a day commonly associated with the Feast Day of Saint Joaquin and Saint Anne. These Saints are thought to have been the parents of the Virgin Mary, making them the grandparents of Jesus.

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Happy man talking with cute boy standing at home
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Kwazulu-Natal Province in South Africa

Grandma: Gogo/Ugogo

Grandpa: Umkhulu

Home to the Zulu tribe of South Africa, the Kwazulu-Natal Province has known its share of hardships, as well as joys. Here, grandmothers are often called upon to raise their own grandchildren, orphaned by the AIDS crisis.

Grandmas are lovingly known as “gogo” or “ugogo” in the Zulu dialect. Gogo groups, dedicated to helping children, can be found all over the country. Grandpas of the Zulu tribe are called “umkhulu.”

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Senior man and her granddaughter looking at a photo album
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Grandma: Maimeó

Grandpa: Daideó

If your grandparents were born in Ireland, you can claim Irish citizenship for yourself, even if your parents have never set foot on the Emerald Isle. That may be one reason why grandparents in this lovely country have such loving connections to their grandkids. In Gaelic, grandmothers are called “maimeó” (pronounced mam-o), and grandfathers, “daideó “(pronounced dah-jo). Try testing your own maimeó, to see how many she gets right.

Don’t miss these words you never knew were Gaelic!

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Portrait of happy little girl on grandfather's shoulders in an oat field
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Grandma: Babushka

Grandpa: Dedushka

In Russia, a grandmother is typically referred to as “babushka,” a term that also means old woman. The colourful, light wool headscarves, often worn by women of a certain age in Russia, have also come to be known as babushkas. Grandfathers may not have a head covering named after them in this large, Northern country, but are affectionately known as “dedushka,” or sometimes, “dedulya,” a more casual term of endearment.

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Joyful Asian grandparents sitting on the floor in the living room using digital tablet with little grandson together at home
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Grandma: Lao Lao (maternal), Nai Nai (paternal)

Grandpa: Lao ye or Wai gong (maternal), Zu fu (paternal)

In Chinese households, both in the People’s Republic, and abroad, grandparents often live with their children and grandchildren, according to the American Grandparents Association. This close, respectful relationship is of benefit to everyone, since the grandparents typically stay home with the children, while their parents work.

In Mandarin, the official dialect, maternal and paternal grandparents are known by different terms. According to The Spruce, the formal name for paternal grandfathers is “zu fu,” but “yeye” is more commonly used. Maternal grandfathers are known by different names, based on geographic region. In the north, they’re called “lao ye.” In the south, “wai gong.” Paternal grandmas are known as “nai nai,” and maternal grandmas, “lao lao.”

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Grandparents, parent and granddaughter together
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Grandma: Grand-mère

Grandpa: Grand-père

The lyrical language of France is apparent in the way children refer to their grandparents, “grand-mère” is grandma, and “grand-père” is grandpa. “Mamie” has become a popular modern update for grandmother.

According to Cairn Info, the role of grandparents in their grandchildren’s lives have changed from the traditional, in modern-day France. Due to healthy habits and a robust, longer life span than was common in generations past, grandparents are better able to play an active, familial role, into a more advanced, older age. Grandparents in France are often the ones who provide financial assistance, when needed, to their grandkids.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest