Grandparent Discoveries Blog

Nonna, Grammy, Pop Pop, Gigi: How Do Grandparents Get Their Names?

Cheryl Beaudoin

I remember when I was pregnant with my first baby. My mom and I brainstormed about what she would like her grandchild call her—this was a big decision, with long-term impact! She wanted something cute and unique. She didn’t want to be Nana because that was what my siblings and I called both of my grandmothers. Although I felt it was a little before her time, we settled on Grams.

My mother-in-law decided that she wanted the baby to call her Connie, because she was certainly far too young to be called Grammy, Grandma, or anything like that! All of my children’s friends also called her Connie…and I was Mrs. Beaudoin!

Fast forward to a few years ago when my first grandbaby was about to be born—what did I want to be called? I too wanted something unique: not Grams, because that was my mother, and not Nana, because that was both of my grandmothers. My husband also wanted to try something new and different from the names used in his family. He went with Pappy—after a favourite bourbon! 

One of my best friends chose Mia as her grandparent name because it represented her Italian heritage. I took that idea and ran with it—as you all know, I am Gigi! I love that it is a reflection of my French heritage.

I find this such a fun and interesting topic and so many people have great stories about how they got their grandparent names. I reached out to many of my grandparent peeps and asked them what their grands call them and how it all came about.

I found that many grandparents stick with tradition, taking the names their own children had called their grandparents. It seems to be a comfort for those adult children to call their parents, now grandparents, what had they fondly called own their grandparents. So, I heard lots of Grammy, Gramps, Nana, Papa, Grandma, etc.

A few of my grandparent friends said they went with what their children, as the parents-to-be, wanted their new babies to call them. A fun one was from a friend, Lisa. Her kids’ friends called her Peaches—no one is sure why. But her kids thought it would be fun to keep the tradition alive, so now Peaches is her grandmother name! Another friend overheard someone be called Lala and loved that—so she went with it. And as we discovered in a previous blog post, Discovery Museum CEO Neil Gordon got his grandparent name, Gogo, from reading the book, “Go, Grandpa, Go!” to his granddaughter. ("Go, Grandpa, Go!" is by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Sophie Beer.)

One funny story that I loved was about kids who call their parents what their parents call each other. Our friends called their dad George, which was his name, and called their mom Hon, because that’s what George called her. Then, the grandchildren called them Grampa George and Grandma Hon—gotta love that!!

The funny thing about grandparent names is that we may choose them with the expectation that only our grandchildren will use that name, but they often become what we adults also call each other. I now call my mom Grams, and my own kids call me Gigi! All of the adults in Ann’s family now call her mother-in-law Mimi, as does her father-in-law, Gramps!

Choosing your grandparent name is perhaps one of the few times in life that you get to choose for yourself what people will call you, which makes it fun. And in the end, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t really matter what they call you—as grandparents, we just want them to call us!

What’s your grandparent name? How did it come about? I really do love these stories, please share them with me by commenting on the blog or emailing me at I’m sure I’ll learn more on this topic and maybe get enough stories for a future blog post!

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PS Baystateparent Magazine was nice enough to do an article on the Grandparent Discoveries blog—check it out!

Cheryl Beaudoin

Hi, I’m Cheryl: grandmother, retired Kindergarten teacher, longtime friend (and current Board member) of the Discovery Museum—and now, blogger!  As a grandparent, I try to apply what I learned as a teacher about children and their development to strengthen my relationships with my grandchildren and bring them joy. My hope for this blog is to engage with other grandparents in the Museum community to collect and share stories and ideas about the joys—and challenges—of grandparenting, and how we can connect and deepen our relationships with our grandchildren. Please join me in this wonderful journey we are on—I look forward to hearing from you! Use the comment box at the bottom of any blog post or email me at


Marilyn Barrett

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 21:50

I too am a retired teacher becoming a grandparent for the first time.  I chose Grammy before Thea was born and my husband, who has been speaking to her in Spanish chose Abuelo.  After she began speaking, she called me Grammy and my husband ‘Buelo. Now at 26 months, she hears and repeats everything. She enjoys saying Kelli to us instead of Mommy and my son, Tio, is sometimes called Kevin. Buelo is sometimes Joe!  Kids are so cute and bright. Such a joy.


Wed, 08/10/2022 - 15:33

In reply to by Marilyn Barrett

Thanks for reading the blog Marilyn!  It is such a joy to watch them grow.  They are certainly bright and mine continue to amaze me every time I am with them!  Too bad they grow so quickly - that's why we have to savor!!


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