Choose the Perfect Grandmother Name

Traditional or Modern, Chic or Ethnic

grandmothers may spend a lot of time choosing the perfect grandmother name
Grandmothers want names that reflect the type of grandmother they are. Photo © LM Photo | Stone | Getty Images

Learning that one is to become a grandmother is one of those watershed moments in a woman’s life. Usually the grandmother-to-be begins to wonder almost immediately: What should I choose as my grandmother name?

Traditional Grandmother Names

Many families use the same traditional grandmother name over and over. Others introduce small variations to differentiate between a grandmother and a great-grandmother.

For example, I called my grandmother Grannie, but when I became a mother, my mom became Grannie, and my grandmother became Gran-Gran.

Most of these names have been around seemingly forever.

  • Gadgi or Gadgy
  • Gammy or Gamma or Gams
  • Gram or Grams
  • Gramma
  • Grammy or Grammie
  • Grandma or Grandmaw
  • Grandmama
  • Grandmom
  • Grandmother
  • Grannie or Granny
  • Gran or Gran-Gran
  • Marmee or Marmi
  • Mammy
  • Mema or MeMa or Mima

Names That Are Mostly Peculiar to Certain Groups

Some grandmother names are especially prevalent in a particular geographical region or ethnic group. For example, the American South is known for its unique names for grandmothers and others.Here are some names that are limited to certain groups or parts of the country. 

  • Big Mom or Big Momma
  • Honey
  • Lovey
  • Lolly
  • Ma or Maw
  • MawMaw or Mawmaw
  • Memaw or MeeMaw or Mimaw
  • Mom-Mom
  • Queenie
  • Sassy
  • Sugar
  • Sweetie
  • Two-Mama (like second mama)

Modern Grandmother Names

Some grandmothers feel that they don't fit the mold of the typical grandmother and seek more modern grandmother names.

Sometimes these grandmothers are younger than average, but more often they simply want grandmother names that capture their personality. Some try just going by their given name, but someone -- a grandchild or other family member -- usually ends up bestowing a nickname.

The adoption of a cool grandmother name is something of a trend among baby boomer grandparents.

The following are just a few of the names they have adopted.

  • Abba
  • Amma
  • Babe
  • Bamba or Bama
  • BeBe
  • Bella or Belle
  • Birdy or Birdie
  • Bunny
  • CeeCee or Cici
  • Coco
  • Gabby or Gabbi
  • GiGi
  • GoGo or Gogi
  • G-Ma or G-Mom (also spelled Geema or Geemom)
  • Glamma or Glammy
  • Grancy or Grancie
  • Kitty
  • LaLa
  • MayMay
  • Mia
  • Mimi
  • Nina
  • Pippy or Pippa
  • Teenie or Teeny

Grandmother in Other Languages

Some grandmothers choose names favored by different nationalities or cultures, either because the names reflect their heritage or simply because they like the way they sound. You don't have to be Italian to be a Nonna!

In most countries, there are several different terms for grandmother. Some are formal, and some are informal. Some are used to refer to a grandmother, and some are used as terms of direct address. It can be very difficult to figure out which words are actually used by children as names for their grandmothers. In addition, many of these names appear in several variations and spellings. Consider this list as a starting point for doing more research.

Click on the links, when provided, for more detailed information, sometimes including a link to an audio file.

When Children Have Multiple Grandparents

Many children today have more than one grandmother. Indeed, through stepfamily relationships, some have half a dozen. For grandchildren who have more one grandmother, some families choose to add the given name or the last name to the grandparent name, arriving at combinations such as Gramma Jean or Grandma Brown.

Grandparent names can spark family conflict, so it is worth spending some time thinking about your choice. You also might want to check out these FAQs about grandparent names.

Changing Your Grandmother Name

Grandmothers should not become too attached to their chosen names. Grandchildren will change your life, and they just might change your carefully selected grandmother name. Most grandmothers, however, embrace with joy whatever name comes from the lips of their grandchildren.

Occasionally grandmothers themselves decide to change their names. That is perfectly acceptable, but if you have been known by a certain appellation for a while, be prepared for others to have some trouble making the switch.

More Resources

If you are still undecided about what grandmother name suits you, there's nothing wrong with waiting until after the baby is born and you actually are a grandmother. You'll learn more about your grandparenting style and perhaps find just the perfect name. Of course, if you wait long enough, your grandchild may pick out your nickname. Consulting books about grandparent names is another strategy to consider.

Do you have a grandfather who's in a similar quandary? See names for grandfathers. See also grandparent nicknames you'll love.