How to Pick Your Grandparent Name

Do you have your first grandchild on the way? Congratulations! There’s a lot of excitement that accompanies your transition into grandparenthood and lots of thinking about what kind of grandparent you’d like to be

One of the most important decisions you can make as a grandparent is … what your grandchildren will call you! (Okay, maybe not the most important decision, but maybe the most fun.) You didn’t get to pick your birth name, you likely didn’t get to choose what your children called you, but now the power is in your hands! Will you choose from a list of most popular grandparent names? Choose something traditional? Or get creative?

When it comes to grandparent learning adventures, we’re the experts. But to find advice on grandparent names, we decided to poll our Facebook fans to find out what names for grandparents they recommend. We got over 750 grandparents who shared their unique grandparent names with us, and we’ve used that data to put together a grandparents’ naming guide to help you decide your grandparent nickname. Choose wisely! And most importantly, have fun!

1 | Borrow from Your Grandparents

“’Tis an honor to be called ‘grandma.’ That was what I called the best Grandma in the world, my Grandma Mary.”

Some people can’t separate the idea of being a grandparent with the name that they called their own grandparent. When you hear your grandmother or grandfather’s name, are you filled with a comforting warmth of nostalgia? Then maybe the right choice for you is to keep it in the family—whatever that name may be.

2 | Go Traditional

“Nana because ... well, because that’s what Grandmothers are called in my family.”

Among the nicknames for grandparents in English, two of the most traditional grandparent pairings are “Grandma and Grandpa” (often followed by your first name) and “Nana and Papa.” The names are classy, universally understood and carry a sense of tradition. But maybe you want something more unique and creative. Then read on.

3 | Pick a Nickname

While about 10% of grandparents in our poll are called “Grandma and Grandpa” and another 10% are called “Nana and Papa,” around 30% of grandmothers and 30% of grandfathers go by some version of these traditional names. Some of the most popular shortenings for “grandma” and “nana” include: Gram, Grammy, G-Ma, Granny and Nan. Grandpa or Papa are often shortened to Gramps, Pop, Pap, G-Pa, Poppy or Grandaddy.

4 | Let Your Grandkid Choose

“They call me Ahma. My now 10-year-old grandson couldn't quite say ‘grandma.’ It came out ‘Ahma,’ and now that's what they call me!”

In many cases, even if you try to choose your grandfather or grandmother name yourself, your grandchild will come up with something on their own. Maybe they call you “Ahma” because they couldn’t say “grandma” when they were little, or maybe they call you “Gimme” because they associated you with giving them whatever they want. Or perhaps they’ve come up with something creative completely on their own. Some baby-created nicknames we came across? Boop, Bubba, GamGam, Gaga, Googoo, Gram, Rah-Rah. (We’re not kidding.)

5 | Be Formal

One grandmother told us how she and her husband trained their grandchildren to call them “Mimere” and “Sir” in order to help develop their language skills. If you like the refined sound of a more formal grandparent name, Grandmother, Grandfather, Mrs., Sir, Lady and Duke are some ideas from our followers.

6 | Go Back to Your Roots

“My sons were blessed with two full sets of grandparents and a dear great grandmother. Since great grandmother was a German immigrant, our sons called her ‘Oma.’ The German word was sweet to her ears, and saved on confusion.”

About 10% of the grandparents we surveyed chose their grandparent names based on their native language or the language of their ancestors. In many cases, these names were passed down through the generations. And in some cases, grandparents used shortened versions of the foreign words as a unique nickname. Some of the most common among our followers include: YiaYia/Pappoús (Greek), Oma/Opa (German), Nonna/Nonno (Italian), Mémère/Mémé and Pépère/Papi (French), Babcia/Dziadzia (Polish), Abuelo/Abuela (Spanish), Lola/Lolo (Filipino), Mawmaw/Pawpaw (Southern U.S.), Kapuna (Hawaiian).

7 | Pick From What’s Popular

“I'm Gigi. Because all the other grandmother names were taken. But I love my sassy name!”

The list of most popular names for grandmas and grandpas combine a mix of more traditional and more creative names. We’ll let the stats speak for themselves here:

  • Nana (11%)
  • Grandma (10%)
  • Grammy (7%)
  • Mimi (6%)
  • Gigi (6%)
  • Grandpa (15%)
  • Pop (9%)
  • ZaZa (7%)


8 | Choose Something Silly

“My oldest grandson (now 11) loved to watch the cuckoo bird on my clock. He would reach for me and say “Cuckoo,” and it stuck. All four call me Cuckoo, and I love it.

One of the best parts of being a grandparent is reconnecting with your silly self. Whether you choose a silly grandparent name to be unique, or your grandchild chooses it for you—we got some funny grandparent names from our fans, including Sugar, Sweetie Pie, Sassy, Queenie, Poppy, Lovie, Lolly, Honey, Cookie, Cuckoo, Coco, Minnie and Banana for grandmothers and Zimmy, Grumpy, Captain, Digger, Dude, Bubba, Peanut, Popsicle or Willie for grandpops.

9 | Be Creative

“I was dubbed ‘Grandy,’ a contraction of ‘Grandfather Andrew.’”

And then there were the outliers. The names that weren’t names or words at all. We’re not sure where they came from or what inspired them, but some of our grandparent followers had some unique grandparent names that we hadn’t heard before. Here are some of our favorites: Tita, Nina, Lolly, KayKay, Wowo, Super G, Sam, Paqui, Mo, Guppy, Mambo and Owie for grandmothers and Wagi, Vita, Taw Taw, Pompi, Bebop, Boompa and Banky for our grandpas out there.

“As we all can see it’s not the name that matters, it’s the child that calls you.”

When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter which name you pick or which name your grandchild chooses for you. Whatever grandparent name you land on, it’s bound to be your favorite name. Live it. Embody it. Enjoy it. They’re only little for so long.

What do your grandkids call you? Tell us in the comments!

Want to be the coolest Gigi or Pop Pop in town? Take your grandkid on a Grandparent Learning Adventure with Road Scholar!


 About the Author: For Pauline Nelson, Director of Travel Services, education and travel are a part of her DNA. Her father was a history lover and a book collector, often taking the family on weekend trips and to museums. Her first international adventure was when she was 12 and alongside her grandmother, which sparked her love in multi-generational experiences. “Because I traveled with my grandmother, it seemed natural to introduce my granddaughter to the joys of educational travel – we’ve been going on Road Scholar adventures together for the last ten years!”

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