A Glitch in an Otherwise Smooth Move
Moving Day Stage 1

Grandparent Names

[UPDATE on Yesterday's Comcast Problem: After speaking with seven people over several hours (including one who said she could not help me but someone who could would call in three to five business days!), I received a phone message Monday evening from an eighth person who told me a "glitch" within Comcast caused the problem. It is now resolved, she said, and my appointment on May 21 for installation has been restored. We'll see.]

A neglected area of aging on this blog is grandparents. That's because, having to no children, I am ignorant of the experience, knowing it through friends and fellow elderbloggers only at a distance. I am curious, however, about how names are chosen for grandparents.

These days, with divorces, remarriages, step-parents and blended families, a child is likely to have more than the natural number of four so naming can become a complex exercise in distinguishing among them, not to mention the grandparents' preferences and toddlers' often funny mangling of the language that becomes permanent.

I had only two grandparents, one from each parent – Grandpa Banta and Grandma Hazel. Grandpa Banta's wife, a late-life marriage, was referred to by her first name, Bertha. But from my limited experience, it appears rare that grandchildren use first names without Grandma or Grandpa or something similar appended at the beginning of the name.

In the large family of friends who are of Polish heritage, grandmothers (and some great aunts) are called Baba with their first name following. And in Jewish families, there is the Yiddish, bubbe.

If the number of feature stories about grandparent names (one here) is an indication, boomers are rejecting the traditional “grandma” and “grandpa.” This is, apparently, so widespread that there is even a book about what to name the grandparents, The New Grandparents Name Book:

“The book is a kind of public service...offering perky alternative names such as Bubbles and Sharky, Pebbles and Rocky, GoGo and Ammo, and - for wine lovers - Sonoma and Napa.”

Personally, I'd take Granny over Ammo any day.

There are a lot of grandparents among Time Goes By readers, so today, tell us what your grandkids call you, how the name come about and whether you like it.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcia May: Bathing Beauty


I named myself Grammy because, being from Georgia, I liked the idea of my Oregon grandchildren thinking of me as "Grammy Cracker".

I am Grandma and my husband is Pappaw, although he would prefer Grandpa. I wanted to be called Nana, but the other grandmother got first dibs on that.

To Ethan, I'm "Crazy Gammaw," to distinguish me from Mike's mom, who is "Grandma." Aidan calls me "Grandma," and called his other grandmother "Querida," at her request. So far, my grandchildren do not have extra grandparents...

I have found that, the younger the grandparents, the more likely they are to come up with unusual names...my boss is "Gigi," for instance.

I knew mine as Grandma and Grandpa. I don't think I even knew their first names until I was older.
My nephews called my parents Grandma and Grandpa.
The names probably pass on in families.

My mother's parents were Nana and Deedah to me. Nana is common enough, but Deedah came from my oldest cousin as a toddler, it was Daddy reversed.

Thanks to the baby boomer propensity toward multiple marriage partners, my grandsons have two grandfathers and five grandmothers, a great grandfather and a great grandmother. Their mother asked each one to pick a name for him or herself, and it was first come first served.

There's Granne (me), Granny, Granali, Cindy, Grandma Di and Grandma (great grandmother). The grandfathers are Grandpa Karl, Jimpa and Grandpa (great grandfather).

Cindy being the youngest of us all at first disliked the idea of having such a title and so insisted on just her name, and now I think she has come to regret that decision. But once the kids start calling you by a certain name, it's hard to change it.

My mother's parents were Maw and Paw to us; my father's were Grandma and Grandpa Carroll. (But to my cousins they were Wanna and Wandy.) My parents, to my children, are MeeMaw and PomPaw.

To my grandchildren, I am Banana (sigh); I was aiming for Nana, but due to mispronunciation, and an oldest son who found it highly amusing, I will be Banana forever. My husband, who is unrelated except by marriage to any of my grandchildren, is Grandjohn. To his grandchildren and great-grandchild, he's Dada (prounuced DayDay).

I'm called grandmother and my husband, grandfather. We use these names in an indigenous sense that includes respected elders, wise mentors and unconditional lovers of our precious grandchildren (or grands as they're called in Trinidad where they live).

I had a great grandmother who was called Nannie but otherwise it's always grandma and grandpa but with the last name. We changed that when our kids preferred to attach our first names to the grandma/grandpa (they asked how we felt about it). I am Grandma Betty. What gets me why the reluctance to be called a grandma? I like it but wouldn't like being called by my first name alone as I grew up with a family where it was always a disrespect to call someone of an earlier generation by their first name. There had to be a title with it.

Serendipitiously, my real name is Nana,with a long "a", so my grandchildren call me that. Their other grandmother they also call Nana, but with a short "a". At 4 and 8, they don't seem at all confused by it.

I'm Nana or sometimes Nana Paula and my husband is Grandpa. Two of our grandchildren already have grandmothers named Oma and Grandma. One child, in fact, has four grandmothers---Grandma Nan, Grandma, Oma and Nana (me). Another has an Oma and a Nana (me again). That situation and the fact that I like the name made Nana an easy choice. One of my own grandmothers was called Gramola since to fit with Ola, her real name. I grew up thinking every child had a Grandma and a Gramola. My little friends at school straightened me out real quick.

I had a Grandma and a Nana myself, so when my first grandchild was born and his other grandmother specially wanted to be Grandma, I said I'd be Nana. When the others came along, I remained Nana for all of them, to avoid confusion. And their grandfather, being Dutch-born, became Opa of course. One set ended up with three grandfathers: Grandpa, Opa and Pardy. Seems to work just fine.

Our oldest grandchild began calling my husband and me “Mimi” and “Boopah.” I tried to teach him to say “Grammie“, but he could only say the last syllable which he doubled. My husband wanted to be called “Abuelo” because he is from South America; it became “Boopah” somehow. Our grandson is now almost 15 years old, and all the parents of his baseball team-mates still greet my husband, “Hi, Boopah!”

To our other set of grandchildren, we are “Grammie” and “Abuelo.”

As has been said before, I don't really care what they call as long as they call me.

Though I'm still waiting for the blessed events to occur, I have staked my claim to "Nannie" -- that's what my husband called his only grandmother and what my kids called his mother and if I can be half as wonderful in the memories of MY grandkids as those Nannies are in their grandkids' minds then I'll be the world's most perfect grandmother! If only.....
for now, I settle for a granddog named Thomas (does this mean my grandchildren will be named Spot and Rover?)

This is fun reading! I am Mummi, Finnish for granny, just like my mother was to my kids. Husband is Opa, German, like his father was. The other grandparents, being British, are Granny V and Grandpa J, using first names. So, yes, the family naming traditions continue.

I really enjoyed reading all of these names.

I am NANNY and Roy is POP. The other grandparents were MIMI and POP POP.
Another set were GRANDMA FLO and GRAMPA

The kids kept these names all straight and loved and appreciated their Grandparents...

A confession - the advent of the first grandchild put me in a quandry. I wasn't at all sure I was comfortable with being a grandma. Seven grandchildren later I love it! Names for me vary but include: Grandma Freda, Grandma-Campervan and plain old Grandma. Great times.

When I was born I had 2 grandmothers and 2 great grandmothers. It was confusing having so many grandmas so as a toddler I named my closest grandmother 'Nama.' and it stuck.

The other grandmother named herself 'Nana', only she pronounces it Non-ah. Their grandfather is "Papa." I was grandma to both of my granddaughters when the oldest one decided she wanted to call me "Grammy" That didn't last and now I am just Grandma to my step-grandchildren and to my natural granddaughters.

I'm new to Grandmotherdom and when the subject came up of what to be called by my Granddaughter (who will have three grandmothers)I was counseled by my friends to quickly opt for a title that I wanted before the other Grandmother's chimed in. My first thought was to opt for "Your Highness" but I suspect, if I go that route, I will end up being called "Highnie" by my darling grandchild. No doubt, I will be dubbed the default: "Banana".

In the rural South of the 50s, most grandparents were called Mommaw and Papaw, so that's what I called mine. Sometimes used their last name if there was confusion between paternal/maternal. But I always called my mother-in-law by a formal Mrs.(last name). Lots of southerners still do that with in-laws today. Just a custom, I guess.

No kids here either, no regrets.

Am I just old-fashioned? I love being called "Grandma." Few years ago, in NYC meeting with group of women 60+, I was startled when one announced she'd instructed grandkids very early to use her first name--& always in public.

The whole world calls me by my first name: I've earned my personal labels, Mom & Grandma. Feel crowded by boomers'values, their either/or approach to living.

Grandpadad-[dad's dad] worked for a confused granddaughter.
G.G. - great-grandmother.
Ahma - to chinese/american grandson.
Grandma D. and grandpa to the others.
I too, find it disrespectful to call an elder by their first name, unless there is an "Aunt" or "uncle" before the name.

Bravo, now let's hope that works.

I call myself Gramma Mage, but all 14 of the grandkids call me granma. They call my husband, and to some he is the only grandfather on this side they know, grampa. Keeping it simple. :)

I called my father's parents grandma and grandpa, my mother's father was called Gimpa...a quiet man that I called Grandfather. Ah, formalities.

My kids called my folks Nanny and Papa. Their father (now deceased) was raised by an aunt and uncle, and they were called just that.

My grandson, Lex, calls me Grammy, a name I chose for myself, since Nana was already taken by his other grandmother, who already had several grandchildren who called her that. Her husband is Papa to their grandkids.

Lex called my former husband Pa. He calls my mother, Great Grandma.

I'm trying to remember what I called my grandparents, all four of whom were born in Poland. I think that my cousins and I, eager to be "American" and not "greenhorns," called each by Grandma and Grandpa, attaching their last names to distinguish them.

One of my best friend's grandson calls her MeeMaw -- a name I always thought was unusual, but after reading the comments here, maybe it's not.

I'm Gramma. It will probably morph into Grandma when the children are older. I started out as Grandmother but it was going to be Grandmother Judy and Grandmother Karen. I didn't want my first name used so I switched to Gramma.
My husband is Papaw. He inherited the name from his dad when our daughter referred to him that way after her first child was born.
We also have Granddaddy, my SIL's father as well as Grandmommie and Grandmother Billie, my SIL's grandmothers.
My mother is called Great Grandmother.
So we go from very informal to very formal.
But the children may change all that: my grandson who is learning to talk looks at me and says "Me-me"! and that's ok too! :)

During the time I taught primary children, I read to them the book Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs by Tomie de Paola. I so enjoyed the story that I decided I would one day be called Nana. My present husband had chosen the name Boompa while he was married to a German lady. So when my daughter gave birth to Kai, we became known as Nana and Boompa. I enjoy the ring I hear when he says Nana and Boompa.
Incidentally, my daughter married an Englishman and they live in England. Our grandson calls my daughter's father, Granddaddy which is what she called my father.

We're Grandma Chris and Grandpa Tony.

My own grandparents went by Grandma and Grandpa .

My parents referred to their in-laws and Mother and Dad , a convention I never hear nowadays.

With 7 grandchildren I am Grandpa to 6 of them. To the 7th, I am pawpaw...she has always had a mind of her own!

My 14 grandchildren call me Gramma Pat and my husband, Grampa Don. They call my ex Grampa Ken and his wife, Gramma Kay. This situation gives rise to some confusion and interesting questions/suggestions from grandkids trying to sort out relationships. One dear autism spectrum 12 yr old thinks Gramma Pat and Grampa Ken should marry again and their spouses should marry each other! I always called my grandparents Grandma/Grandpa "Last Name", but I opted for the more familiar for myself as a means to enable more closeness. I think it worked.

I will never forget the first time a little person ever called to me, "Grandma, Grandma", and, after a confused pause, I realized she was talking to me! What a thrill!

Our step-grandchild calls us Grandpa and Grandma, just as she does her other set of grandparents. My mother's parents were Grandpa and Grandma to us kids, while my father's mom was Mommaw. And I also called my mother-in-law Mrs. lastname. A relative's granddaughter calls her Mamere. Agreed, it doesn't matter as long as they call us!

My step-grands have two Nanas, so they dubbed one of them ToyStoryNana, because she'd taken them to that movie when it first opened. Now, the newest edition to that Nana's family has begun to call her ToyStoryNana, too...because, obviously, that is her name! I went with GG, for Grateful Grandmother. The alternatives, which could include MonstersIncNana or IceAgeNana, just typecast me far too well.

My mother's parents were Grandma and Grandpa; my father's mother was Nana. Since my parents have passed on, my son has only one set of grandparents, whom I assume will be Grandma and Grandpa (but who knows, he may stick on some other name). Of course, that leaves the question of what to call his two great-grandmothers. That will be a combination of what they want and what he ends up saying, I imagine.

In Scotland grandmothers are often called Nana and grandfathers are Papa. As a girl from the midwest I had two sets of Grandma and Grandpa. I have German friends that have an Oma (grandmother) and Opa (grandfather). I knew bubbe was Yiddish for grandmother, but what is Yiddish for grandfather?

being of german decent, i thought oma was good. my grandson came out with eema, which is who i now am.

Zayde - is Grandfather in Yiddish...I am Savtee (my grandmother) and my husband is Sabee (my grandfather). Our parents were the Nanas and the Papas with their first name. My Grandmother was Granny...and so on and so on etc. Eema in Hebrew means Mother. Very cool read.

To clarify the above post, savta and saba are Hebrew for grandmother and grandfather. The -ee ending means my.

My father's parents who lived in the same city were the Yiddish Bubbie and Zayde. My mother's mother and her second husband (first had died) lived in another city and were not seen as often. They were Morebubbie and Morezayde. I thought everyone had a morebubbie and morezayde, and it wasn't till I was an adult that I thought to ask how they got named. Seems I did it when I was little.

I don't have kids, but the toddler across the hall calls me Nana. His mother who comes from India was going to have him call me Bubbie, but she pronounced it Booby so I opted for Nana.

I am plain old "Grandma". That came about because that is what I called MY grandmother and it is what my children called MY mother.
However, my divorced son has a child and she is very close to her mother's parents..not so much to her Dad's side of the family. The other grandparent's got the cute names and I got Grandma. Oh well...

Oh my! I used brackets, and weblog ate them! Here's what I meant to say:

We're Grandma Chris and Grandpa Tony.

My own grandparents went by Grandma and Grandpa LastName.

My parents referred to their in-laws as Mother LastName and Dad LastName, a convention I never hear nowadays.

Grandma is a badge of honor & I added my first name to define which one I was...

My grandparents were Mimi & Pops and Grammie & Poppie.

My parents were Grandmother & Jack to the grandchildren. My father was Jack to almost everyone, so I guess saw no reason to be other than Jack. My inlaws were Meemah and Granddad.

My stepsons always called me by my first name, so I am Abuela Liz to the Guatemalan wing of the grandchildren (but it is pronounced more like abooie) and just Liz to the British wing. But since the British grandson is just beginning to talk, it sounds more like "Bid".

I wanted to be Mamy, which is the French word, but my daughter-in-law grabbed that one for her mom. So, my second choice was "Nana." My mom was Grandma, so that's what my son decided his daughter would call me. I didn't expect to like it, but when I hear her voice over the phone, I don't care what she's calling me ....

Sorry to be late chiming in, but my husband and I were on the road Tuesday to be on hand for sixth grandchild's birth Wednesday. When our first was born, we called ourselves Grandma and Grandpa in our long conversations with the infant. When he started talking, he dubbed us Nana and Baboo and that stuck. We love it. Currently there are no multiples due to remarriage, but our two sons' children are blessed with many living grands.

Other grandparents are Mama Kitty (a designation by a precocious toddler among my daughter-in-law's relatives) and Grandpa, and Mimi and Papa. Great-grandparents include a Grandma Sugar, Mamaw, Great Nana, and Poppo and Grandma.

I called my only living grandparent "Gramdma" or "Gramma." My children called their two living grandmothers "Grandma" + the last name initial to differentiate. When we had a grandchild her other grandma was very quick to get first dibs on being "Nana." I assured my dtr and spouse that whatever my grandchild felt comfortable calling us was just fine -- she called us grandma and grandpa.

Another interesting area of name variations is with in-laws. Some aren't comfortable calling two sets of parents mother/dad or with terms they call their own parents.

My dad's best friend always tried to teach his grandchildren manners. Being southern, he wanted them to say SIR. So that is what they would call him!! When he would ask a question and they said yes...he would follow with yes - what? yes sir! So they just all figured his name was sir! It would be so cute to see little ones at the store saying....Sir, can I have a popsicle? or whatever they wanted!

My Dad's parents were Granny and Papa. My Mother's parents were Grandma and Papa and I had one Great Grandma.

My husband is Pepaw..I am Grandmommie. He wanted to be called Grandpa but it morphed into Pe paw.

We have only 1 grandson- he is 3 and Mother's Day we found out another one is on the way. I'm so excited!!!

My Grandson calls his other grandparents Pa and Grandmother.

my grand daughter calls me JANUE she has ever since she could talk and says the name quite well. The name is the name Cary Grant called his grandmother in the movie 'AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER" always loved the movie and the part of the movie where he goes to see his grandmother, the word JANUE is a term of endearment

I can see that these posts are quite a few months old but I noticed that one of them mentions the name Pardy. My siblings and I called our grandfather Pardy but no one seems to know why or where it came from. Is anyone able to shed some light on this for me?

I had a Nanna and Pop on my father's side and Grandmother (who sadly passed on before I was born) and Pardy on my Mum's side. I new Pardy but only when I was a toddler. I'm afraid I am also in the dark about the name Pardy and was also hoping that someone might be able to help me out.

The comments to this entry are closed.