How To Say Grandma in Different Languages

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Wondering what other people around the world call their grandma? Learn how to say grandma in different languages and some different terms English speakers use.

You probably have warm memories of your grandmother, and if you're lucky, you get to continue building upon those memories to this day. For many, a grandma is like a second mother or a source of wisdom. Many a child learned valuable life skills from their grandparents, from cooking, cleaning and canning to sewing, manners and beyond. 

You likely have a special name for your grandmother based on the country you're from or the heritage you share. For example, if you're Hawaiian, you might call your grandmother tutu or kuku. But have you ever wondered what other people around the world call their grandma?

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How Do You Say Grandma in Different Languages?

There are more than 7,000 languages used around the world today, although only about 23 account for most of the spoken world. This means there are, quite literally, thousands of ways to say grandma in different languages. Below are a few common terms used in European, Asian, Middle Eastern, African and Spanish-speaking countries. 

In European Countries

Europe consists of a wide range of languages and cultures that, for historical and political purposes, are usually divided into two regions: Eastern Europe and Western Europe. Besides the United Kingdom, Europe includes the Mediterranean, Ireland, and Slavic countries, such as Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic. Here's what people in some European countries call their grandmother:

  • Romania (Romanian): Bunica
  • Italy (Italian): Nonna
  • Greece (Greek): Yaya
  • Belgium (Flemish): Bomma
  • Ireland (Gaelic): Maimeó
  • Russia (Russian): Babushka
  • France (French): Grand-mère
  • Germany (German): Oma
  • Sweden (Swedish): Mormor
  • Iceland (Icelandic): Amma
  • Poland (Polish): Babcia
  • Ukraine (Ukrainian): Baba
  • Hungary (Hungarian): Nagymama 
  • Slovakia (Slovak): Babička 

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In Asian and Middle Eastern Countries

Geographically, most of the Middle East is located on the Asian continent, with a few notable exceptions. For example, Egypt is considered part of the Middle East but is located in the northern portion of Africa. This is the world's largest continent and is home to dozens of unique languages, some with several distinct dialects. Here's what people in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries call their grandmother:

  • Japan (Japanese): Oba-chan or Sobo 
  • Philippines (Filipino): Lola 
  • Cambodia (Khmer): Yeay 
  • Israel (Hebrew): Savta 
  • South Korea (Korean): Halmoni 
  • India (Telugu): Awa 
  • Laos (Hmong): Pog 
  • China (Chinese): Nai Nai (paternal grandmother) 
  • China (Chinese): Lao Ye (maternal grandmother) 
  • Thailand (Thai): Yaai 
  • Vietnam (Vietnamese): Bà 

In African Countries

Despite the common misconception that Africa is a country, it's actually a continent with more than 50 unique nations. Many of these nations have one or more unique languages and, thus, unique names for their grandmas. Here's what people in some African countries call their grandmother: 

  • Ethiopia (Amharic): Āyaytē
  • Botswana (Afrikaans): Ouma
  • Nigeria (Yoruba): Iya-nla
  • Nigeria (Igbo): Nne Nne
  • Burkina Faso (Hausa): Kaka
  • Kenya (Swahili): Bibi
  • South Africa (Zulu): Ugogo
  • Sudan (Sudanese): Nini
  • Somalia (Somali): Ayeeyo
  • Morocco (Arabic): Jiddah

In Spanish-Speaking Countries

There are 20 countries globally where Spanish is the official language, with most of these nations focused in Central and South America. A few countries that predominately speak Spanish include Peru, Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela. There are several different names for grandmothers in Spanish, including:

  • Abuela (proper term)
  • Abuelita
  • Mamá
  • Wela
  • Abu
  • Lita
  • Agüe
  • Yaya

Similarly, in Portuguese, the word for grandma is avó. Portuguese is spoken in Portugal and Brazil. 

What Are Different Terms for Grandma in English?

There are many different terms for Grandma in English, with some words being popular in specific regions. For example, in the American south, many call their grandmothers mamaw, memaw and granny. Other English terms for Grandma include gran, gramma, mom-mom, mimi, nana and nan. 

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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