Ways to Say Mother and Grandmother in Different Languages

On the second Sunday in May every year, people in the United States celebrate Mother's Day. It's a time to stop and honor mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and like-a-mothers for everything they do. The word mother and grandmother is different in every language. Even in the United States, there are different terms for mother - mom, mama, mommy, etc. In honor of Mother's Day, we thought we'd take some time to share the different names for mother found around the world. You can use this list to help your students explore different ways of saying mother or to introduce a writing assignment (in English) or discussion about what they call their own mothers.

Ways to Say Mother

In American English, mother is the common word for mother. Younger kids may say mommy or mama. The words mom and ma are shortened versions of the word. In British English, mummy and mum are commonly heard terms as well.

Mama is actually one of the most common words with mother because it is typically the first sounds babies make to call their mother. It is also a word for mother in Dutch, German, Greek, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili. Italians, Norwegians, and the Swedes use the term mamma and French use a similar term, maman.

Madre is another term for mother used in Spanish and Italian.

Mere is the French word for mother.

Majka is the name for mother in countries such as Croatia and Bosnia.

Matka, which is similar to majka, is used in countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and Belarus.

Of course there are some more unique pronunciations of mother in different languages. In Japan, mother is okaasan or haha. In the Philippines, mother is ina. In Arabic, mother is um. In Somoan, mother is tina. In Turkish, mother is anne, ana, or valide.

Ways to Say Grandmother

Grandmother is another word that is said multiple ways. In the United States alone, there are numerous variations. A few include: grandma, grammy, grandmama, gram, gammie, meemaw, mom-mom, nana, and nanny.

Names for grandmother from other countries have also become popular in the United States. Some grandmothers prefer the German word for grandmother, oma. Others use the Italian word for grandmother, nonna or nonni, or the word gigi. Mimi is also a popular name for grandmothers in the United States.

In Hawaiian, tutu is often used for both grandparents.

In French, grandmothers are called grand-mere or grand-maman.

In Greek, yaya is the word for grandmother.

In Spanish, abuelita is the word for grandmother.

In Arabic, the word for grandmother is gedda or yedda.

Of course, in many countries, many kids also come up with their own cutesy names for their grandmothers.

To all of the mothers and grandmothers out there, thank you for all that you do. We love you. What do you call your mother or grandmother?

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