Arts & Culture

Terms of Endearment: Nicknames for Moms

G&G readers love their Mamas, Big Mamas, Mee Maws, Nannys, and Grannys.

Photo: Shutterstock

In a recent Talk of the South newsletter, we asked readers for the nickname or term of endearment they use for their mom or grandmothers. Here are a few of the many responses:


My grandmother was our Granny. When I had my first child, my mom also wanted to be Granny, so we had a dilemma. At first my Granny called herself the Other Granny. I didn’t think that was so good. Her last name was King, so I told my son to call her Granny King. Somehow, he renamed her King Granny. That name could not have suited her any better. She was truly the King of all Grannies.
–Sissy L.

We call my mother Mama Duck. Maybe she said she was protective of us like a mama duck was of her ducklings. Don’t remember. It was a long time ago and we were young. Wish I could see Mama Duck again. She passed away in 1969.
–Barbara S.

–Barbara M.

I call my grandma Mika. It comes from her originally wanting to be called Mamacita, which she shortened to Mamita and then Mita, but my brother couldn’t pronounce the “t” when he was little, so he called her Mika. And it stuck! She was an eccentric grandmother from South Texas and her name suited her well.
–Alexis M.

We called my grandmother Sweetmommy. Because you’ve got your mommy—and then you’ve got your SWEET mommy. One day when I have grandchildren, I definitely plan on being Sweetmommy.

We called my maternal grandmother Peka. As small children, we were confused when my mother said we were going to Topeka to visit.
–Marcie A.

My children call my mother Shugs.
–Morgan J.

The General, because no matter what the family crisis, was she was always in command.
–Louis P.

My mother’s birth name is Carol Sue, and everybody in Cullman, Alabama, that knows her from childhood to prior to becoming a grandmother, still calls her Carol Sue. At the Walmart, that’s all you hear—“Hey, Carol Sue!” When my sister was expecting her first child, and my mother’s first grandchild, mother wanted to be called Mommsie, not Grandmother, or Granny or Maw Maw or any of those dear Southern names. Unfortunately the first grandchild could not pronounce Mommsie; it came out Nancy, and now that is what everyone calls her around town, except those who only know her from childhood! So here’s to Carol Sue “Nancy” Hart – the best mother and grandmother ever!
–Leighanne S.

Mine is Mémé. Have to have the accents; otherwise it’s now the all-to-familiar meme. An entirely different construct.
–Susan S.

Sweet Pea.
–Kenneth W.

My grandmother only responds to Liane, her given name, or Two Mom. Woe unto any soul that calls her grandma.
–Rhett B.

Nana Duck. My son called my mom that because she had a pond with ducks. Mymama is what my daughter called my mom. I was always saying “my Mama.”
–Rawles M.

It is a tradition in my family to call our grandmothers Mommom. My grandmother was Mommom Sal, I’m Mommom Patty, my mother is Great Mommom … we are all Mommoms. I love hearing my grandchildren lovingly calling me Mommom!
–Patty B.

What my grandchildren call me: Babe. That’s what my grandparents and aunt called me all my life, and now that they are all gone, I’m still called Babe.
–Rachel C.

Granny: Strong family matriarch, great cook, gives the best hugs!
–Amy C.

My mom took a while finding her grandmother name because she had a long list of names she DIDN’T want to be called. Thankfully, my niece kept hearing my father’s nickname for my mother—Lovey—and it stuck. In fact, several of my five brothers and two sisters plus their spouses called her that, in addition to fifteen grandchildren.
–Cate P.

Mops. I don’t know where it came from. Allegedly her hair. She was an impeccable Southern lady; her hair was not a mophead.
–Jim G.

Munner. I was the oldest grandchild. With only hearing my aunts and father calling her Mother. My child version of “Munner” was as close as I could get. It stuck. Seven grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren all knew her as Munner.
–Ron M.

We called our maternal grandmother Other Mama. A little humor with this nickname was the very young grandkids sounded it out Uddermama😉
Kathy M. (BTW-my grandchildren call me Khaki.)

We called her Gran, because she was.
–Johnsie K.

Nonnie. Pronounced nahn’ee but spelled Nana. Go figure?
–John C.

I called my grandmother Bigmama because she was named by older cousins. Our oldest son named my mother Honey. We tried to get him to call her Bigmama, and one day when I said, “Go give Bigmama a hug bye,” he turned to me, put his hands on his little hips and said, “She no Igmama, she my Honey!” From that day forth through her ninety-two years, she was Honey, even to her doctors, who had to call to tell me that “her insurance said they didn’t have a Honey Evans in their records!” Honey … the name of the purest substance … made by the only insects that ‘gives back to humans’ … was her perfect description!
–Sharon B.

Mother’s nickname: Sister Mom. (She’s a nun in a Mobile, Alabama, monastery.)
–Marian F.

My mother Claire was a very pragmatic woman, with a side of glamour. I never knew her age growing up, she always wore heels, and was rarely seen without lipstick. When her grandchildren were born we asked her what she wanted to be called, and she announced “Kiki,” and Kiki she became, the most fun-loving grandmother, always a side of glamour, and occasionally a glass of champagne. We miss her everyday.
–Nancy W.

I didn’t feel like I could live up to my mother’s nickname of Nanny. She was the perfect grandmother of twelve. But the sticker on my car says, “World’s best YaYa.” I am crazy for my six grandboys!
–Joy R.

I was fortunate enough to have three Southern grandmothers, and they each operated with a different level of formality. I had a Grandmother McManus, who was so formal that her initials were MAM and she was at the premier of Gone with the Wind. My favorite grandmother name remains Mickie Ma, who is my adopted grandmother and who is still going strong in her 90s.
–Josh M.

Mumsie. After a few health episodes with my dear Mom, we lovingly nicknamed her Mumsie. Even one of her physicians called her by this sweet endearment.
–Diane D.

My grandmother was Big Mama. I don’t know why, she wasn’t a big lady!
–Susan V.

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