Choosing a Fun and Modern Grandma Name

A Facebook follower on my author page , Stacy Sterling Robinson, sent me a message. She was trying to pick a modern grandma name. Something “fun, sweet, sassy, but still elegant.”

She asked what my grandchildren call me. Stay tuned. I’ll reveal the answer to that question later…

Since this seems to be a topic of interest to grandmothers, I’ll list the most popular grandma names, the trendiest grandma names, and describe ways to create a unique grandma name. But first, let’s briefly examine why this is such a popular trend.

choosing a fun and modern grandma nameWhy Hip Grandmas Want a Modern Name

It’s no surprise that grandmothers today are searching for chic grandparent names. Arguably, more active and healthy than previous generations of grandparents, we baby boomers are redefining aging. We still rock out, just not in rocking chairs!

As I wrote in an earlier blog, “Baby Boomers Blazing New Trail as Grandparents, “True to our roots, we are determined to reinvent ourselves and be the grooviest, hippest, most involved, and greatest grandparents ever. We’re embracing our new role with the same excited enthusiasm we once had for macramé plant hangers and bell bottom jeans.”

That being the case, why not have a unique and fun grandma name to match our groovy-ness?

Of course, there’s a practical reason for grandparent nicknames as well. As Robinson pointed out to me in her message, her grandchildren have other grandparents who go by “Grandma” so she wanted a different name to cause less confusion.

And that’s a valid point. With people living longer, many grandchildren have a gaggle of grandparents, great-grandparents, and maybe step-grandparents too. If everyone went by “Grandma,” the grandkids’ heads would spin trying to keep everyone straight.

Perhaps that’s why a few grandfathers are jumping on the bandwagon and going by different names as well. Some grandpas go by Pop-Pop, Gramps, Pappy, Papaw, or as my husband is called, Bapa.

In fact, an article in USA Today, reports that 41% of grandmothers use an individualized nickname as well as 28% of grandfathers.

The Most Popular Grandma Names

According to participants in a survey done by, the ten most popular grandma names are:

  1. Grandma
  2. Nana
  3. Grammy
  4. Granny
  5. Mimi
  6. Gram
  7. Nanny
  8. Oma
  9. Mamaw
  10. Gran

Of course, grandmas don’t have to go with any of these traditional or popular choices. Grandmothers have more options than ever today.

Choosing an Ethnic or Chic Grandma Name

Grandmas may select a name associated with a particular ethnicity or nationality such as Tutu (Hawaiian), Yiayia (Greek), Bubbe (Yiddish), Ouma (Afrikaans), and Abuela (Spanish). Looking for something elegant? Many French children call their grandmother “Grand-mère,” which can also be shortened to “Mémé.”

Some grandmothers opt for a trendy grandmother name or decide to make up their own name. Here are a few ideas for modern grandmas looking for something a bit more unique:

  • Amma
  • Bella
  • Coco
  • Gaga
  • Gamma
  • Gigi
  • Glam-ma or Glammy
  • G-Ma or G-Mom
  • GoMa
  • Gramma-Bamma
  • Gran-Gran
  • Granmama
  • Kitty
  • LaLa
  • Lulu
  • Lovie
  • Mamita
  • MayMay
  • Me-Maw
  • Mia
  • Pippa or Pippy
  • Sassy
  • Sweetie or Sweetums
  • TeaMa

Of course, there’s even more names than the ones I’ve listed here. Check out the comprehensive list for both grandmothers and grandfathers on Having a hard time choosing the right grandma name? The online magazine has a fun quiz to help grandmothers select the right name to match their lifestyle and personalities.

Creating a Grandma Name From a Given Name

Some grandmothers come up with a name based on their own names. Perhaps their name is Candace or Cecilia and they choose to go by CeeCee. Or Nancy could become Grancy. One grandmother with the last name of Smith considered being called “Apple” by her first grandchild since she was a “Granny Smith.” Haha!

For example, my first name is Julie. I kind of liked the idea of my grandkids calling me JuJu. My youngest sister, who was born when I was 15, called me by that name as a child because Julie was hard for her to pronounce. I had a sentimental attachment to that name and thought it was cute.

But it didn’t stick. Because here’s what can happen.

When Your Chosen Name Gets Changed

Parents may choose a different grandma name than one you’ve carefully selected. My ex-daughter-in-law began calling all of us grandmothers Grandma with our names tacked to the end. So, in the end, I became Grandma Julie. Since my youngest granddaughter’s other grandparents have their own unique nicknames, I am simply Grandma to her.

Well, that’s what I am, so I decided to own it!

Or your grandchildren themselves may start calling you by a name different than the one you originally chose for yourself.

And you know what? Usually grandmothers embrace whatever name comes from the mouths of their precious grandchildren with joy. The chosen name becomes special, especially when their beloved grandchild adds an “I love you” to the grandma name. That’s definitely how I feel!

So, what do you think of this trend? Do you have a special grandmother name? Please share in the comments below to help inspire other new grandmas searching for the right name.




Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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10 Responses

  1. Carmela says:

    I’ve always loved the name Grandma. It stirs memories of my own loving grandmother and I’m instantly transported to her warm hugs (even though she’s a foot shorter than me) and the scent of biscuits and gravy wafting through the air. My mother on the other hand despises that name. She loved it when my nephew called her MommaNana. he used to live with us and the resemblance between my sister and mother is uncanny. As he got older he became embarrassed of the name and started calling her grandma. When my boys were born my mother insisted that she have a name that is less stuffy and informal (her words, not mine). however she made me choose the new title for her. After careful consideration we went with MeeMaw as a way to pay homage to her father and mother who are both from the south. well since my mother was getting a custom name I felt it only right that my mother-in-law also have her choice of a name. Turns out she doesn’t like Grandma either. For her my husband picked Avo. The Portuguese name for grandma. Which was perfect for her since her husband‘s family is from Portugal and he passed away right after we were married.

  2. Cat Michaels says:

    Not a grand mother, Julie, er, I mean Grandma Julie, but many friends in the same quandary. Mimi and MeMaw are popular choices in the southeastern US.

  3. Hi Julie, this was a fun and interesting post to read. I struggled with what to be called when my first grandchild was born. In the end I settled on Nanna, but my boys Nanna is still alive, so we elevated her to GG. I thinks as a great grandma she was quite proud of the promotion.

  4. Grandma here! 🙂 We’re working on getting our 2nd one to say it. I’ll say, “Say, Grandma, pleeeease! ” So far I’m getting the “pleeeease” part. Ha! Ha!
    Fun article, Julie. Thank for sharing.

  5. You got me thinking of my dad. He’s from Liberia and calls his parents Oupa and Ouma. So my grandparents on his said, to me, weren’t grandma or grandpa, they were Ouma and Oupa.

  6. Julie says:

    Yes, this is a great thing to consider. A way off for me with young kids. They call my inlaws Baba and Dide, the Croatian names for Grandma and Granddad, which is nice, but I am not sure if that is what I want to be known as. At least I have a while to think about it!

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