Saudi Arabia: The Many Names for Granny

I became a Grandmother again for the second time less than a month ago.  Being a Grandmother is one of the most special titles and honors a woman can have.  There is nothing quite like holding and cuddling and loving upon your baby’s baby!  As I gaze down on my grandsons I remember each and every time what a beautiful miracle they are from God.

It’s funny though how many different names there are for a Grandmother.  For example, in Saudi Arabia, Grandmother in Arabic is “Jiddah.”  In fact, many view the city of Jeddah as a holy place since Jeddah is also believed to be where Eve, the mother of all mothers, has been buried.  Hence, it’s named Jeddah.  However, back to the subject of names for Grandmothers, many in my own extended Saudi family, rather than call their Grandmother “Jiddah” will instead call her “Mama” added by her first name.

In America there can be many names substituted for the formal “Grandmother.”  Many grandmothers will prefer “Nana” as it is easy for a child to learn and say at a younger age.  Others may prefer the condensed version of “Grandma” which is what I called my own Grandmothers.  Other versions may be simply “Gran” or “Gran-mama.”  Now in my case, I like the sound of “Granny.”  I know that to many the word “Granny” may conjure an image of an old feeble white haired lady whereas many of today’s Grandmothers are fit and hip!  Yet for me, Granny just seems to fit for me and my personality.

Now Granny is not an easy word for a grandchild to learn right away.  My Grandson started saying nana around six months old when he wanted to refer to his “other” Grandmother.  However that in no way meant I was ignored or unknown to him.  While I and others would always refer to me as “Granny” until my Grandson learned how to say “Granny” he created his own way of communicating.  Whenever he wanted me or if someone asked him, “Where is Granny?” he would find me with his eyes and bob his head up and down a few times.  We jokingly in the family referred to me as the “Head Bob Granny.”  However on the second of January my Grandson, now 26 months old, gave me one of his greatest gifts.  He looked directly at me and repeated over and over “Gran nee, Gran nee” with a big smile on his face!  Granny, Gran nee or Head Bob Granny…there are the most precious words and gestures to me.

What names, words and gestures have others who are fortunate to be a Grandmother called?


28 Responses

  1. I go by Granny as well. My mother spoke of her ‘granny’ but besides that no other grandmothers in our family go by that but, for me, it just seemed appropriate somehow but my grandson, at 19 months, doesn’t really say anything much yet. Although that NOOOO was pretty clear the other day! mmwa ha ha!! High five kid!

  2. Mabrook, ya Granny! Oh, it is such a blessing, indeed, to hold one’s grandchild. My grandkids call me, “Gramma,” and they call my mother (their greart-grandmother) “Nana”.

    Since their paternal grandmothers are Arabs, they use Arabic names for them. No one is confused!

  3. MashaAllah, how cute!

    At first my husband and I wanted to let our children’s grandmothers decide what to be called. While my mother in law chose the traditional grandmother in my husband’s language, my mother insisted on being called something similar to mommy-dearest in our language. It puzzles me when grandmothers are in denial about their age/status as grandmother, and want to turn back the time by insisting on younger sounding title rather than grandma. What is wrong with being called a grandma?

  4. I always called my grandmothers Grammie. In Russian you can go with Baba, short for Babushka, and in Italian Nona.

  5. To me, it is the highest honor to have the title of Grandmother!

    You’re right, Lynn…some words come out ever so clearly and at such a young age!!

    But I also have seen that many times a Grandchild will be the one who decides on what a grandparent will be called! (smile)

  6. I have 7 grandchildren 🙂 The oldest calls me Goobie. We aren’t sure where that came from, but it is what she has called me from the beginning. I find it special because she calls her other grndmother the more traditional Grandma. The other shildren vary between Grandma Linda and Nana. I agree, being a grandmother is the highest honor.

  7. Most of my grandchildren call me Grandma, but the little fellow 24months tomorrow calls me “Ma”. I love it and hope that his 4 months old brother does the same.
    Coming from conservative English stock my own beloved Grandmother could never understand the title of Nanna that is mostly used here in Australia.. Nanna was for Nannies. Grandma it was to be and we are still obeying her although she has long gone.

  8. Goobie is cute! Kids do make up some of the sweetest names!

    @JdH = I wonder if as your grandkids grow older whether they will eventually add the “Grand” to Ma?

    My 26 month old Grandson is such a character. He sees how touched his Granny is when she hears his little soft voice say “Gran nee” that each time after he says it he’ll look at me and give me what we call a “winkie winkie.” His way of winking is to blink both eyes real fast at whoever he’s wanting to give a wink!

  9. I called my grandmother (father’s side since I don’t know my mother’s side at all) Khun Yai kha (mrs grandmother on father’s side ma’am) because she was a stickler for formality and I was supposed to be a Thai lady. I would have called my maternal grandmother Khun Ya. My paternal grandfather is Khun Pboo ( he was awesome. He was a military man down to his little pinky toe and if dinner wasn’t on the table at 6 pm SHARP Grandmother would be having a talk with the cook P’Pa about her being lax in duty even it were 5 MINUTES late). Grandfather was Surgeon General of Thailand (Yes you can look him up… I did once and his picture comes up with a bunch of other government officials) and was the nicest man ever unless you did not function on military time (except at home since that was Grandmother’s domain). He lost all his teeth but one and he LOVED me (only got to meet him once) so much he lied to his doctors about me stealing his pepsi (he had diabetes and they only let him have one SMALL glass of pepsi per day). He also was the neighborhood doctor and would except anything from a live chicken to a bowl of rice as payment for seeing a patient who didn’t have money. He’d just charge the rich ones more…….. LOL

    *public announcement* I am still not feeling 100% and have about 3 specialist doctor visits to go until I find out if I can fly to Florida (warmth is good for my weak lungs but the tin can of germs I’d be traveling in is NOT and the doctors don’t want me flying…. I guess I”m driving?). So I will be around but BUSY! (God, I’d rather be working full time….. at least I can just come home and die in peace!) 😛

  10. @Onigiri, so sorry to hear you are not quite healed. Hang in there!!! If you end up driving, I hope it is not too long of a drive for you.

    I enjoyed hearing how Grandparents are referred to in Thailand. Both your grandparents sounded like characters!

  11. Thanks Carol. If I drive I’ll try to swing by NC on way to or back. 🙂

  12. Now I am really hoping that you will be driving! (smile)

  13. Onigirl, what’s wrong with your lungs? You be careful driving and get healthy, OK?

    I’ve enjoyed all the comments on this post especially hearing about what grandmothers are called in different countries.

    Here is the South I hear “Maw maw” and “Mee maw” a lot. Also Granny, Nana, Nannie, Grammy as well as Grandma.

    Grandmother seems very formal and I don’t know anyone who actually uses this though I have heard Grand Ma-Ma.

    Some families who use Grandma for both their maternal and paternal grandmothers will say Grandma Carol and Grandma Alice or Grandma Jones and Grandma Smith (last name rather than first).

    For my mom’s mother, she is Mema (mee maw)

    and my dad’s mother is Grandma.

    My mom’s family called their grandmother “Momzi” which one of the granddaughters now uses for her own grandchildren to call her.

    I think Goobie is special! 😀

  14. I like Grammy…that has a nice sound to it.

    You are right, Susanne…I called my Grandmother’s Grandma followed by their names, especially when both were present at the same time.

  15. I grew up in FL and never new a meemaw…. I like that though.

    I almost died on 12/31 because I had a severe allergic reaction to two cats in an enclosed apt. Oh and get this the little twerp that I was “visiting” didn’t even bother to call 911 for me. He watched me barely out the apt door get in my car and drive two blocks to my house where I then called 911. Oh and get this if you call 911 from your cell phone then then TRANSFER YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was like, “ok I’ll wait and then DIE!”. The cop showed up first then the EMTs and ALL three where like BREATHE. I was like “I’M TRYING!” *darth vadar voice* so they take me to ER I requested downtown (if I had known I would have request West since that is a much newer as in last year hospital but then I wouldn’t have been treated by Ben Affleck lookalike er doc). Needless to say the pumped me so full of drugs that my hands shook for 12 hours straight afterwards. Ye Gods! But they had the paddles ready to shock me since the stress and abuterol had my blood pressure at 152 over 113. After two horse shots that hurt like a b*tch (pardon my french) and 4 rx’s to fill and an ekg and….. hrm… don’t remember I got to leave 4 hours or so later and VERY much poorer. Or will be when the finish running it through my insurance (thank god for The Principal insurance!!!!!!!!!!!! I know what we pay cause i WORK there!) So that is why my lungs are the lungs of a undeveloped newborn… or as of friday 80% functional hence needing a trip somewhere WARM! It’s COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD in IOWA!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Oh btw Carol is my friend on fb… please friend me if you’d like. 🙂 onigirifb2 on twitter onigirifb on tumblr

    Carol I may be renting a rv…. it’s cheaper than hotels and I now have a personal assistant that can drive me to fl. Prolly end of month or earlier. I have to be back here by 2/28.

  16. *sigh* needless to say I have had a baaaaaaaaaaaaad week. Carol can probably fill you since I’ve been using FB to update people from AROUND the world. They do not take the fact I ALMOST DIED lightly. In fact I’m sure my father, if I knew where he was is PEEVED (you do NOT want to see him ANGRY or PISSED OFF). I have also turned into my father. 😦 because it used to embarrass me when I was younger and not aware that this world is filled with incompetent and rude people who are in service jobs but DO NOT DO THEIR JOBS. If the little twit at the allergist DOES NOT send me a nice letter of apology then she’s going to get a nice letter from my not so nice lawyer who will remain I guess from now on retainer even if I have to pay him 5000 dollars! I have about 4 lawsuits going on right now….. a simple letter is NOT going to cost me anymore than that.

  17. Onigiri,I think parts of FL aren’t really “the South” if that makes sense. 🙂

    Oh, thanks for the update. I didn’t realize a horrible allergic reaction caused this lung problem. Did you know you were allergic to cats before or did this suddenly develop? How frightening! (I had an allergic reaction to pistachios in Syria, but nothing so severe thankfully. I took an antihistamine and was fine.)

    I hope you can get stronger and all better soon. Sorry for the rude people not doing their jobs properly. That is very frustrating!

    Best wishes on a full recovery!

  18. Onigiri,
    I hope you are alright now. Sounds like you need an Epipen with you. And not go to where there are cats. I once witnessed a car hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk and called 911. Get this- they told me that I needed to call a DIFFERENT number and started giving me a 7-digit alternate. I’m pulled over in a parking lot- with no pen or paper- I couldn’t frickin believe it. I mean person is down in a crosswalk. Can’t 911 call the other number for me? I think I scrounged paper from my bag- or maybe I was able to memorize. I can’t remember now because I was jumped up on adreniline.

  19. My son IS dead because people didn’t want to call 911. See, when an ambulance comes the police are usually the first responders and they couldn’t have THAT!

  20. Lynn, that is terrible. I so appreciate 911- you realize what an asset something like that is when you live somewhere it is not! But to not use it when a life is at stake is inexcusable. My condolences. There are so many sub-standard people out there it boggles the mind sometimes.

  21. Oh dear Onigiri…I agree that you should carry an epipen. Are you allergic to ALL cats? I have my two and a good friend of mine locally is severely allergic to cats. We can not have any extended visits in my home as a result of her allergies.

    It is sad how 911 services seem to have deteriorated here in the States. I would not even think of using 911 in Saudi.

    Lynn, I am so saddened by the tragedies you have had to suffer and I realize my words are a gross understatement. Please know that I do think of you and have included you and your families in my prayers for peace and reconciliation.

  22. Lynn….when my daughter crashed my car recently and was clearly injured and the car a mess…I had to run from my store all the way down two blocks cause I didnt have the car (she did)…and by the time I got there the crowd that was gathered had not bothered to call the ambulance. I did on the way so thankfully they arrived soon there after…but the gawkers were quite happy to gawk at anothers persons child stumble around with blood and bruising apparent.

    Oh yeah…she said one lady in a car stopped and got out, my daughter thought she was going to help, instead she took a pic with her phone cam and then sped off. If I find out who that poor excuse for a lady was…watch out!!

  23. @Sandy ‘There are so many sub-standard people out there it boggles the mind sometimes’

    OMG you are not kidding! I’m trying SO hard not to lose my faith in humanity but I don’t know…

    Thanks Carol. I appreciate that.

    Red, how did you find out about the accident? Perhaps everyone figured that the proper calls had been made? I don’t understand what the hell that woman was thinking? A picture? WTH? But if she was conscious and walking around I would think they realised it wasn’t a critical situation or anything. UNlike with my son who they kept giving THEIR version of CPR to all night when they would notice that he stopped breathing again. They didn’t call until a person showed up the next afternoon and saw him unconsious and blue and told them they’d better call 911 or SHE would. They finally did call, an hour and a half after that. That is once they were able to clean up all the drugs and get the kids with legal problems off the premises.

    Tomorrow wll mark 3 months since his passing and I still can’t believe it is true.

  24. Lynn..only 3 months? I won’t even pretend to imagine how you feel because I have not lived your tragedy with any of my children thank God (nor do I want to or wish it on anyone)…but events like yours that happen when nobody does just the lowest form of “it’s not my problem” that people sink too.

    I realize most people assume somebody else has probably done something..called someone…taken action…but that assumption clearly can be wrong…so even if your the 10th person to call an accident in…at least you know the accident was called in and can feel assured help is on the way. To do nothing is criminal in my mind…and obviously yours.

  25. Lynn….

    OMG. I am sooooo sorry to hear of your loss. I pray that you have friends and family to be there for you when you need a hand or hug.

    I agree with Coolred. It is so much better to call an emergency in and be told “we got it” than to never call and assume someone else did.


  27. How sad. 😦 I hope your daughter at least realizes that life is short and there are no guarantees of God or Heaven. Only now and one life. So live life like it’s your last day on this wonderful crazy world. That is what I learned on New Years Eve. No more…. I refuse to let anyone stand in my way, or make me sad, or affect my life negatively. (That’s what pretending to be a rich spoil princess with more than 50 dollars in her account or at least the ability to GET more tends to make positives :P)

    I just told a few people on FB that I had to b*tch at my bishop on sunday and am about 17 managers and counting right now….. I have people all over West Des Moines jumping at my bidding right now. I have a lunch date with the VP of HR/Corp srv to discuss his dismal and lack of courtesy staff (as well as a at base 1 million dollar investment into my company). I have literally turned into my no patience easily angered (not at me thankfully anymore) Father back in Thailand. 😦



    I know we’ve had our differences but I hope that you and yours are safe! That was NO LADY so that thing was a poor excuse for a human….. wow.


    yup the dr gave me an epipen… ALWAYS with me!


    hrm I want to meet your cats! But my dr says I cannot be within 5 ft of one or she’ll kill me herself and save the ER the trouble of trying to save me. Heh. I don’t think it’s that bad… she’s in aggressive medical mode right now and FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE 31ST I HAVE A MORNING WHERE I DON’T HAVE GO SOMEWHERE! Hurrah! Well I think if you can bring one out at a time I should be ok to meet them outdoors and maybe pet them on the head. THEN WASH MY HANDS! 😛

  28. I have learned how very important it is to live each day to the fullest. Mother Hen Bedu’s advice is to not sweat the small stuff, correct any wrongs that need correcting, live each day to the fullest and remember only God above knows when that round trip ticket will be punched.

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