Rarely in life are we able to purposefully choose our own moniker. Our parents got to name us before we could have an opinion on the subject, and heaven forbid we announce our own nickname. (A sobriquet needs to arise organically, or else it’s just the height of pretension.) Upon the arrival of our first grandchild, however, we can finally exert some influence on the matter.
Choosing your own grandparent name isn’t difficult, per se, but it can be fraught with indecision. To help, we’ve gathered some data about regional variances, popular options and cultural heritage traditions. Whatever you choose, be prepared: Toddlers have a way of changing things whether you like it or not.
Common Traditional Options
These are the names that you hear all the time; Gram, Grandma, Gran, etc. Just because they’re common doesn’t mean they’re bad – they’re popular for a reason, after all. You might want a more traditional grandparent name if it ties you to your own grandparent, for example, or if you don’t feel strongly about a unique name one way or another.
You might opt for one of the more traditional names based on where you live, too. According to a study done by Preply, “Nana” and “Papa” are the most popular nicknames for grandmothers and grandfathers in the United States. In New York state, “Ma-ma” (which must be at least a little confusing) is the most popular nickname, but just over the border Grammy (Connecticut), Granny (Rhode Island) or Bubbe (New Jersey) prevails.
- Traditional Grandmother Nicknames: Grandma, Gram, Grammy, Granny, Gran, Mamaw, Nan, Nana, Nanny
- Traditional Grandfather Nicknames: Grandpa, Poppy, Pops, Papa/Poppa, Gramps, Grampy, Grandad, Grandaddy
Trendy Grandparent Names
For those who just don’t feel like a “Gram,” there are some trendier options that baby boomers have brought to prevalence over the last few years. You could take a traditional name and give it a little twist, creating your own amalgamated form. For example, if your name is Joanne, you could be Nana Jo. Or, as it happened in our house, Randy could become “GRandy.”
On the other hand, some popular grandparent names are variations of more traditional names that probably arose from common mispronunciations and cute misunderstandings. For example, because we were incapable of pronouncing the Polish “Babcia,” my grandmother became “Boppi.”
- Some Trendy Grandma Options: Gigi, Nana, Mimi, Bibi, Momo, Gaga
- Some Trendy Grandpa Options: Papi, G-Pa, Grandude
Pay Tribute To Your Heritage
Many cultures have their own grandparent names that get passed down through the generations, and it’s wonderful to continue the tradition (even if it goes a bit sideways over the years). For example, Filipino grandparents are often Lola and Lolo, and French grandparents are Mamy and Papy. For those of German or Dutch heritage, Oma and Opa are popular, and Italians lean towards Nonna and Nonno.
Some Popular International Grandparent Names
- Danish and Swedish: Mormor (maternal grandmother), Farmor (paternal grandmother), Morfar (maternal grandfather) and Farfar (paternal grandfather)
- Greek: Yaya and Pappous
- Hawaiian: Tutu Wahine and Tutu Kane
- Hindi: Nani (maternal grandmother), Nana (maternal grandfather), Dadi (paternal grandmother) and Dada (paternal grandfather)
- Polish: Babcia and Dziadek
- Spanish: Abuela and Abuelo
- Yiddish: Bubbe and Zayde
Be Wild: Let the Grandkids Choose
Some of the most memorable and sentimental grandparent nicknames arise when grandchildren take matters into their own hands. Sometimes a chosen name morphs when the child can’t pronounce it, or they hear something different and it sticks. Often, a name gets assigned that helps the grandchildren remember which one they’re talking about (“Grandpa Beard,” or “Grandma Wales,” for example). If you’re at all flexible, lean into whatever name sticks. You probably won’t regret it.