Celebrity Names Blog

Trendspotting: Other Names for Grandma?

Trendspotting: Other Names for Grandma?
Goldie Hawn is "Glam-Ma" (ANG/Fame Pictures)

When you give birth, the baby isn't the only one who gets a new name. One new name celebrities hate: grandma.

From Martha Stewart to Goldie Hawn, celebrity grandparents are saying no to "grandma" and coming up with their own new names. Alexis Stewart has said that new daughter Jude will call her famous grandmother Martha, thank you very much, while Goldie Hawn loved her son Oliver's suggestion that she go by Glam-Ma.  Gwyneth Paltrow's mom, Blythe Danner, so resisted the name Grandma that she instead tried to get her grandkids to call her Woof. (Apple gets credit for the name they actually use: Lalo.) 

It's not just celebrities who have embraced creative-Grandma-naming. Writes The New York Times in a recent piece on the trend:

Resistant to being called anything that makes them sound old, baby-boomer grandparents have taken to accepting toddlers' neologisms and ethnic variations or, better yet, naming themselves.  

From Nonna to Mimi to Mamo, the resulting names flatter the 40-is-the-new-60 vibe of today's Baby Boomer grandparents.

How widespread is this trend? You tell us. What do the grandkids in your family call the grandparents? Who came up with the names?

--L.R. 

Comments

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May 15, 2011 4:05 PM
By Lane

My mom chose her own grandma-name: Omi. It's a variation on the German Oma.

May 15, 2011 4:26 PM
By Kristin (not verified)

My parents are Gran and Pop, but we've ended up calling Mom "Granny," which wasn't her intention, but she's going with it without much fuss. On the other side, the grandparents are Grandmother and Granddaddy. So in my family, we're not very trendy!

May 15, 2011 4:29 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My mom and dad are Grammy and Grampy, and my Mother-in-law is Gigi lol

May 15, 2011 4:32 PM
By Julie (not verified)

My mom is Nanny, my dad is Grandpa (his decision). My IL's are opa (he's German) and Allie (she's hubby's step-mom, and as such, did not want to be "grandma").

May 15, 2011 4:40 PM
By Sarah M (not verified)

My kids call all their grandmothers 'nana .. (and their name)' which stops the confusion as they have 4 so we have nana Lynne nana Margie nana babs and nana Susan... And their granda's are the same.
My mother in law did want grandma but it never stuck and the kids have just taken to calling my parents whom they see the most out of all their grandparents just nana and granda without the names and we all know who we mean when they don't use names!!!

May 15, 2011 4:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My mothrr was supposed to be called Grammy, but for some reason my daughter called her Mickie. Everyone wonders who Mickie is since it's not a traditional grandmother name.
my dad is called by the Greek name for grandpa...Popou.

My in-laws are called something a little more traditional (at least in the south) Mimi & Poppy.

May 15, 2011 5:24 PM
By EB (not verified)

Both sets of Grandmothers did NOT want to be "grandma". One ended up being Mimi (per my son), and the other Gram. His Great Grandmother is G.G., and one Grandpa is Bop Bop. It's funny how these names emerge!

May 15, 2011 6:39 PM
By hillary (not verified)

My mom picked Grammy and that stuck. My dad wanted to be called Grandpa but my daughter mispronounced it as Pom-pa and then that morphed into Papa. My husband's mom is Grandma FirstName. And great grandma is Gigi because that's how she signs her cards: G'g'ma.

May 15, 2011 6:43 PM
By Another British Laura (not verified)

One of my grandmother's friends was called 'Bamba' by her grandson. She died a few years ago and it says 'Bamba' instead of grandmother on her gravestone.

We called our grandmothers Grandma and Nanny and I think my mum will probably end up as Grandma although my brother, sister and I don't have children yet.

May 15, 2011 6:47 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My parents are Mi-Maa and Papa, even tho they wanted grama and grampa, as my son at 18 months couldn't/wouldn't call them that... He's 3 now and it stuck!

May 15, 2011 6:49 PM
By StephanieKay (not verified)

I think part of it is regional, too. My family's mostly southern-born and I can't think of a single grandparent I've known that went by "Grandma" or "Grandpa". Maw-maw, Nana, Mee-maw, Nanny, Grammy, and Zaza are all names that evolved for different grandmothers, while the granddads got Paw-paw, Pop-pop, Papa, and Grumpy.

May 15, 2011 7:07 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

This is such an interesting topic! My Baby-Boomer mom said that when I got pregnant, that was a frequent question by her peers - "What are you going to have them call you? Not 'grandma!" She was surprised there was such a pervasive contempt for the idea, as was I when she told me! It's funny, too, because much of that generation are becoming grandparents a full two decades later than their parents did - they can hardly complain about how the name makes them seem old! But my mom had looked forward to being called Grandma and so she is - well, "Gwamma" because that's how my kids pronounce it. My first called my dad "PopPops" and that stuck. Together, the kids call them "GwamPopPops" a la Brangelina. I would have loved for the kids to call my Swiss immigrant ILs by "Oma" and "Opa," but the nine grandchildren before ours have always called them Grandma and Grandpa, so it didn't make sense to break with "tradition!" We just add first names when necessary to distinguish between them.

May 15, 2011 7:24 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Though I am far from actual grandparenthood, I have considered taking up my grandmother's moniker when I am so blessed... Gram. It's simple for kids to pronounce and as a child, I liked that there was a difference between my maternal and paternal grandparents' names. Everyone knew whom I was referring to as a child. My children have to refer to their grandparents as Grandpa Lastname or Grandpa Initial etc.

May 15, 2011 7:34 PM
By emily (not verified)

my daughter calls my mom "bwaaah" :D which we all think is awesome.

May 15, 2011 7:47 PM
By Jessi Ronans mum (not verified)

My mother is Grammy Grams and inlaws are Grandma Sally and Grandpa Barry. My dad is just Grampa

May 15, 2011 8:03 PM
By Emery Jo (not verified)

MoMar and DooDad.

My oldest brother started calling our mom "momar" years ago and it stuck, and Doodad evolved from years of me calling my daddy "dude". :)

May 15, 2011 8:09 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My maternal grandmother is Grandmom C(her last name)not grandma. All the grandkids pronounce the -mom part. On the paternal side, my grandmother is Mal-Mal and my grandfather is Big Dad. They did not want the usual monikers so my eldest cousins got to name them. I think the original intention was Mom-Mom, and Big Dad was because my grandfather is very tall.

May 15, 2011 8:15 PM
By ashley eell (not verified)

My MIL was supposed to be "Yia Yia" (Greek for Grandmother) but he says Za Za....so that kinda has just stuck. and her parent are grand-dad & grammy to him.
my father is "Pa" which started by my oldest nephew.

I had Queta (Enriqueta) & Grandpa and Granny & Poppy:)

May 16, 2011 1:25 AM
By Sebalek (not verified)

I asked my mom what SHE wanted to be called and her reply was "whatever they want to call me." So she's Gramma, my dad is Grandpa, his wife is Debbie b/c she's NOT a grandparent for them.

My MIL is Baba (bah-bah) and my FIL is Dyado (dee-yah-doh) which are the Bulgarian words for grandmother and grandfather, respectively.

I wanted to Mamo or Maiko (Bulgarian for Mom) but my guys never really picked it up.

My Jewish friends are Eema (mom) and Abba (dad). Her DH's parents are Saba (grandfather) and Savta (grandmother) [she's a convert so her parents are the Memaw and Papaw].

May 16, 2011 5:54 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My parents are grandma and grandpa, having been dubbed than by my brother and his wife when their kids were born years before mine. My in-laws being of German background chose Oma and Opa. We also have close friends who are like grandparents. Their background is Italian so they picked Nonna and Nonna. Everyone has different names, so there is no confusion. My parents seem to like being Grandma and Grandpa.

May 16, 2011 7:16 AM
By Caitlyn (not verified)

oh my heavens, this was a Big Thing in my family.

My in-laws were normal enough: Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt B- This was helped by the fact that my husband is the younger sibling and my in-laws had been awaiting grandchildren for some time.

On my side, however, my mom and dad were barely 50 when my baby was born, and I'm the oldest of the siblings, so my youngest sister was 12. Sooo....it got complicated. My mom picked Mima, and my Dad picked Pappa, because he's been wanting our friends to call him "Pappa K" (K is his last initial) for years. My college-age sisters decided on Tante, for no reason that I can make out, so they are Tante C- and Tante N-. My brother wanted to be plain "Uncle" with no name at all, since he's the only one, or "Uncle Boy" if that didn't work. So he'll probably be Uncle Boy because I keep forgetting to leave it off.

And my youngest sister, freaked out by the thought of being called by a name she associates with a 90-year-old lady (she was named after our great-aunt), called me in tears shortly after hearing I was pregnant. (She was twelve, everything leads to tears then.) After some discussion we decided on "Super Sister" as an appropriate title, which was "Super Sister S-", or SSS, or "Essa" for short. So she goes by Essa. And I get REALLY ANNOYED at people who hear this whole story and turn to her and say condescendingly "well, you're really an aunt" and insist on using "Aunt S-". It's incredibly rude to insist on calling someone by a name they dislike.

May 16, 2011 7:23 AM
By Lane

Aw Caitlyn, I think Essa is a very sweet and cute name. I can't believe some people hear that story and don't love it and want to call her that! I love reading about what your siblings wanted to be called.

May 16, 2011 10:06 AM
By Sarah (not verified)

I agree with Lane, Caitlyn! And thanks for sharing about what your sibling wanted to be called... my brother and his fiancee recently had a baby and I always thought I would just go by Aunt Sarah, but my future SIL has a sister named Sara also, and I'm afraid two Aunt Sara(h)'s might confuse the baby (especially since she'll see the other one more than me... I want her to know me by something different). Any one else have a suggestion for something other than Aunt Sarah?

May 16, 2011 11:28 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

We call ours Gramma and Grampa. I guess we are old fashioned.;)

May 16, 2011 1:18 PM
By Laura. (not verified)

My mother is aiming to be known as Granna while I'm going to try to teach my little one to call my husband's parents Elder Ron and Gramma Vic.

May 16, 2011 4:13 PM
By Stephanie (not verified)

My mom and dad are Grand-Karen and Grand-Bob. My husbands parents are Grandma Cyndy and Papa. Sometimes my mom gets called Grandma Karen, but usually it is Grand-Karen. It is all my dad's fault for joking when I was pregnant with my oldest that he will finally be a Grand-Bob. It stuck and, as a result, the form followed my mom.

May 16, 2011 6:26 PM
By Mom (not verified)

@ Sarah, you could be Aunt Sadie.....or Aunt SarBear.

As for me, I always wanted to be called Oma, because I am German. But because my mother is Oma, I chose Omi ( which is a form of Oma), so there would be no confusion for my granddaughter. My husband is Grampy. I totally Love being a grandparent!!

May 16, 2011 7:41 PM
By Emily (not verified)

Our son has a Granddad & Nana (both picked by them- and those are the names that their parents used), a Gran-Gran & Grandpa (same as the last set- what their parents had used), and finally a Mamie. That one is a little bit different- she was planning on using "Grammie" which is what her mom was. But it was confusing with Great-Grammie & Grammie both around, so instead she modified it slightly to Mamie, plus she teaches French & it has a French sound to it.
However, when our almost 2-year-old says each of these, it sounds more like "Dad-dad", "Nana" (that one he gets), "Bam-ba", "Gan-gan", & "Am-mie"

May 17, 2011 1:52 AM
By Nancy (not verified)

I was the first grandkid for both sides of my family, so I got to pick all the names. My parents tried for Nonna on my mom's side and Bubbe on my dad's side. Nonna turned into Nanny, and Bubbe turned into Guggie, which was not appreciated, so my dad's mom is now Grandma to six grandkids. Whoops! I never knew either of my biological grandpas, so they're referred to as "your dad" when I'm talking to either of my parents, or occasionally if I'm not talking to my own dad, I'll refer to my dad's dad as Grandpa Steve. My Grandma's second husband was Grandpa Allen, and he's the one who I know as my grandpa, but he died when I was 5.

My parents have two older friends who immigrated from Germany, and they are Omama (cooler form of Oma) and Opa to my brothers and me.

It'll be interesting to see what my parents and my future parents-in-law end up getting called by my kids!

May 17, 2011 11:53 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My grandparents were called Grandma and Grandpa by the older generation of grandchildren. When I came along ten years later, it was changed to Mimi and Papaw.

We're already thinking about what we'll call my parents...
I vote for Gigi and Pop but who knows?

May 17, 2011 11:53 AM
By Jamie (not verified)

Just in my hometown, I can think of several off the wall choices....one family I grew up with used "Big" (Grandpa) and "Bam" (Grandma), which I thought was awesome. My favorite is a friend's mother who was, for years, the editor of our local paper. Her grandchildren call her Grammar.

May 17, 2011 12:00 PM
By LL (not verified)

My (Jewish) in-laws go by Saba and Savta (Hebrew). My mom goes by "Ama," which is what my son called her from the beginning. My step-dad goes by "Grandpa First Name." My dad is no longer alive and I always called my aunt (his sister), "Mom," so she is now "Grandma First Name" to my son instead of "Great Aunt First Name"

My husband's Hungarian-Jewish grandparents were Saba & Savta, too. His Greek-Jewish grandparents were Nona and Papu. My grandparents were all Grandma and Grandpa [Last Name].

May 17, 2011 12:03 PM
By LL (not verified)

Oh, and my paternal grandfather was Deendee or Pop

May 17, 2011 12:06 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

What a great topic! This was a big point of contention in my family. My daughter is the first grandchild on my family's side, so it was an issue for us.

We always called our grandparents Grandma (First Name) and Grandpa (First Name). However, my MIL insists on being called only Grandma, like she's Prince or Madonna or someone like that. Considering that my child has SIX grandmothers (including my grandmothers and some step-grandmothers), I don't like plain old Grandma because it's downright confusing. What's wrong with Grandma (First Name)? At least then we'll know which one we're referring to.

My mom, a baby-boomer who doesn't want to feel old despite her age of 63 years, would like to be called G-Mom. My father's wife would like to be called Nanny, which is ok by me. However, she also wants my child to call my dad Grampy, which grates on my ears horribly.

I never know how to address thank-you notes to the grandparents because I don't know what to call them! I wish we could just follow our family's tradition and call them Grandma First Name and Grandpa First Name.

May 17, 2011 12:08 PM
By Roland and Conrad's mom (not verified)

I grew up calling my grandmother Nona and my boys call my birthmother Mimi which I think is very cute.

May 17, 2011 12:21 PM
By Dianne (not verified)

My mother is Dutch, so my kids call her Oma, which is grandma in Dutch...just as I called my grandmothers, both of them, Dutch or not, Oma. And I will want my grandchildren one day to call me Oma as well.

May 17, 2011 12:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My mom and dad chose their own names, at our request. She is Mauge (pronounced Mahj), which is an old family "grandma name." My dad picked "Pop" because he liked it, and now he really likes it because my daughter started saying it even before mama and dada.

My husbands parents just wanted grandma and grandpa, but his mom specified that it be pronounced "gramma."

All my friends' parents have either chosen their own grandparent names or just gone with whatever the baby said first. I don't think its so much about avoiding terms that sound old, but more about establishing a special relationship with the grandchild. Just my take.

May 17, 2011 12:32 PM
By Alli (not verified)

My little one calls his grandmothers "Cake" & "Agi"
Cake was made up by the oldest grandson several yrs ago as she always seemed to show up for occasions with something from the family's fave bakery. Agi is a variation on the Cherokee name for grandmother which is A-ghi-low-see or so we were told by a patient of my mom's.
I made up the grandfather names when I was little:
Gdaddy & Big Daddy - and we also have Mamaw & Grandmom

May 17, 2011 12:39 PM
By heidi (not verified)

My mother is German and therefore another Oma.

My Aunt became "Mana" (Ma-Na) when her granddaughter misprounounced Grandma and it stuck.

I also have a friend whose parents are called Mima and Peepaw, again because of childhood misprounounciations that stuck.

May 17, 2011 12:44 PM
By Pamela S (not verified)

My parents are Grandma and Grandpa to all their grandchildren. My middle brother married a Spaniard, so his children's other set of grandparents are Abuelo y Abuelo. My mother had wanted to be called "Granno", which is what she called her grandmother, but since it means pimple in Spanish, it never got off the ground.

Not very creative, I know, but I figured I'd just drop that in as a point for the traditional and boring. *sigh*

May 17, 2011 1:12 PM
By CP (not verified)

My baby boomer parents were happy to be grandparents - they go by the slangy French-Canadian "Memere" and "Pepere". My also boomer mother-in-law embraced "Abuelita" as she is from Argentina & my (also boomer) father-in-law somewhat grudgingly accepted Grandpa.

I find the trend also extends to other adults who insist on introducing themselves to children by first name and expecting the children to call them that. I realize that being called "Grandma" or "Mr." "Miss" or "Mrs." makes you feel old but, at least compared to the child you ARE old.

May 17, 2011 1:13 PM
By Tam (not verified)

My parents picked their names, Grammy and Pappy, 19 years ago when my oldest brother had his first child.

When my twins came along almost 2 years ago we stuck with Grammy and Pappy. Of course currently they are known in our house as "Gammy and Happy" My two brothers Ed and June (he's a Junior, named after my dad), are currently known as Unca Ed-da and Unca Juice

Their other grandmother chose "Oma" which is currently being pronounced Elmo.

While I like all of the names everyone picked I'm secretly holding out hope that the current versions stick. Kids are funny.

May 17, 2011 1:41 PM
By Diana (not verified)

My mother refused to be called Grandma, and it took her several month to settle on being called Nanny.

My husband's step-father is Zadie to our kids and Grumpa (with stress of the Grump part) to his other grandchildren.

May 17, 2011 1:45 PM
By Kelsey (not verified)

My grandma is "Nana" to six grandchildren, but my grandfather is "Papaw", "Nanapaw", and "Oldie", as the oldest child in each family gave him a new name. :)
My other grandparents are "Nana" and "Pawpaw"

My youngest cousins call my mom, Jennine "Neen", so she's decided that when my sister and I have kids, she'll be "Neen/Neeny". I think it's cute, and I hope it sticks. My little cousins couldn't say my name, Kelsey, either, so they started using my childhood nickname, "Ree" / "ReeRee". I can't seem to escape it, and I imagine future neices and nephews with use it as well.

May 17, 2011 1:51 PM
By Paula (not verified)

My eldest was the first grandchild, and when she was about 2 I found a cute card for her Grandfather that addressed him as Pop Pop, and it stuck... It's been easy for all mine (5 of them) to say at an early age. However, my niece and nephew know him as Grandpa. His wife (my dh's step-mother) didn't know what she wanted to be called, but after some time she became Grandma Patty. Dh's mom is Nana, a name she chose. I already know I want to be Mimi when it's my turn, only because my youngest calls me that sometimes (he's 2) and it's so cute! My dh will probably end up as Pop (his great grandfather was Pop, so it's been out of use in the family for a while.) My friend who has grandchildren is Lolly and her dh is Pop because she says there are a couple of suckers. ; )

May 17, 2011 1:53 PM
By asibtroy (not verified)

There was some tension about multiple grandma's so we told them that they had to pick names ahead of time and we would just call them that and everyone could have their own "special" name. Its hilarious b/c my MIL is "Nana" but she gets confused (she picked nana on a whim) and calls herself grandma a lot and our son doesn't know who she is talking about, sometimes he thinks she is playing with him and he says - no! your nana!

My parents ended up "Ammy" and "Pa", my son's corruptions of Grammy and Grandpa. And he won't budge. That IS their correct nomenclature according to him, end of story. :)
We've started getting custom "Ammy" things off of etsy!

May 17, 2011 2:20 PM
By 2prettygirlies (not verified)

My in-laws use the Arabic words for Grandma and Grandpa "Teta" and "Jedo" and my father used the Hebrew word for Grandfather "Saba". My mother on the other hand struggled with any association to my own grandparents and settled on the an original "Grannie Annie" (her name is Ann)!

May 17, 2011 2:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

We've never had a Grandma/Grandpa on my side of the family.

My daughter has:
SuSu and Sarge
Grammy and Pop Pop
Grandma (that's my mother-in-law - insisted by my husband)

My aunts all took different names as well when they became grandmothers:
Gigi
Noni
Mimi

May 17, 2011 2:28 PM
By 4boymomma (not verified)

I asked the grandparents how they would like to be 'known' by their grandchildren. We have no Grandmas (not very English) but we have a Nanna and a Nanny, Grandad(also affectionately teased as Grumpy)and Grandad C(first name) as he has very little interaction with his grandchildren, so we use the name to remind them to whom we are referring.

May 17, 2011 2:48 PM
By Shadelit (not verified)

Is this a new trend? I'm mid-30s, and in my lifetime I've known very few actual Grandma and Grandpas. In my family we have had one Grandma (my MIL) but also a Nana, Gamma, Oma, Gram, and Big Mama, and that's going back a few generations. Grandfathers have been Opa, Umpa, and Pop-pop. At least in my family, it's not so much about sounding old, it's more about differentiating from the other grandparents and having a more unique identity--Grandma seems more like a descriptive term than a name, IMO. When/if my time comes, I will likely recycle and be the grandma, Gamma.
But then my son also calls me something he came up with himself. I am his mommy, Mamai, and I like it that way.

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