Saturday, February 23, 2008

Names for your grandparents

On the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) mailing list, Carolyn E. Billingsley asked "what names were used for grandparents by their grandchildren?" She got a lot of responses!

I posted my answers on the APG list, saying (order revised below):

* Nana - my mother called her maternal grandmother this (San Diego CA)
* Nana - my children and my niece called my mother this (she requested it) (San Diego CA)
* Nana - my wife and her brother called their paternal grandmother this (San Francisco CA area)
* Nana Seaver - my brothers and I called our paternal grandmother this because she lived in Massachusetts. My Massachusetts cousins called her Nana also.
* Gram - my brothers and I called my maternal grandmother this (San Diego CA)
* Gramma - my 4-year old grandson calls my wife this now (San Diego CA)
* Mamma - my 3-year old granddaughter calls my wife this, but is working on Gramma (San Diego CA)
* Oo-hoo - my wife and her brother called their maternal grandmother this (San Francisco CA). The story here is that whenever they went to visit thier grandmother, their mother would open the front door and shout "Yoo-hoo." Their grandmother would always answer "Yoo-hoo" and come quickly. The kids figured her name was "Yoo-hoo" but could say only "Oo-hoo." What a dear!

* Papa Lee and Mama Lee - my children called their maternal grandparents these names. His name was Lee Leland, so that's how it came about (San Francisco CA)
* GigiPa and GigiMa - my grandsons call their father's maternal grandparents this because they are Great-Grandparents - G-G-Pa or G-G-Ma - get it? Pretty smart, actually. Unique and accurate. They love it!

* Gramp - my brothers and I called my maternal grandfather this (San Diego CA)
* Grampa - my 4-year old grandson calls me this now (San Diego CA)
* Baba - my 3-year old granddaughter calls me this now (San Diego CA) but is working on Grampa.
* Pop-pop - my children and my niece called my father this (San Diego area) - this kind of goes with Nana, eh? The story here is that when I married Linda, my Massachusetts born father called her Linder. So Linder called him Popper and my mother Mommer (they got used to it). It was a short jump to Pop-pop for the grandkids, but my mother wanted to be called Nana.
* GrandStan - my brother's grandson calls him this (San Diego CA). His given name is Stanley. The name fits... I've resisted being called GrandRand!

What did you call your grandparents? What did your children call their grandparents? What do your grandchildren call you? Please list where they all lived too - Carolyn is trying to figure out regional trends.

Either post about it on your own blog, or add a comment here. i'll pass them on to Carolyn if we get a nice list.

UPDATED: 7:40 pm. - added GigiMa and GigiPa to thel ist after I remembered it.


Dana Huff said...

Randy, I called my maternal grandparents Granna and Papa. As far as I know, I invented Granna trying to say "Gram," which is what my mother says that her mother wanted me to call her. I called my other grandparents Grandma and Grandpa, so nothing too original there.

My mom wanted to be Nana, and my oldest daughter calls her that, but my middle daughter refused to call her Nana and insisted on Gran. The kids all call my dad Grandpa except my niece, who calls him Grandma (I think she is trying to say Grandpa). My husband's parents are Nanny and Papa.

My uncle's ex-wife is German, so all his grandchildren call them Opa and Oma.

Thomas MacEntee said...

Hey Randy - this was great! I've posted my names over at

Terry Thornton said...


Unfortunately three of my grandparents died before I was born. My Grandfather Hollingsworth was elderly and in bad health when I first knew him. All I remember calling him was "Grandfather Hollingsworth."

My own grandchildren call me "Papaw" and call their grandmother "Boo Boo."

I am also interested in learning if more folks today call their inlaws by formal "Mr. and Mrs." or if they use informal given names i.e., "John and Mary." I called my inlaws "Mr. and Mrs." --- and both my d-i-ls call me "Terry" at my insistence.

Terry Thornton

Unknown said...


I called all my grandparents Grandpa or Grandma with the appropriate last name. My daughters did the same with their grandparents. How boring! My mother, whose name was "Elaine" wanted to be called "Lanie" by her grandchildren. But, she never told anybody that so I wasn't aware of it until after she died.

Taking a lesson from my mother's situation, I told my daughter's that I wanted to be called "Mormor" by my grandchildren. I decided this when I first started doing genealogy eleven years ago. Since I'm 3/4 Swedish,am proud of my Swedish heritage, and have two daughters so it works for all my grandchildren, I chose "Mormor" because it means mother's mother. It was also easy for toddlers to learn to say.