Grand Lifestyle

Origins of the Grandparent

What are the origins of the term grandparent? This varies in different cultures and languages however generally the use of the prefix “grand” comes from the Anglo-French word “graund“ or Latin “grandis” which means to be grand or large over the others.



Around 30,000 years ago the number of people who lived to become a grandparent increased – this is due to better health knowledge and therefore longer lives. These days many go on to become great-grandparents and even great-great-grandparents (is there a ultra-mega-great-grandparent?). The wonderful thing with multi-generations being able to communicate is the preservation of information (both family and social).

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Typically, we all have 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents and so on. However, with modern lives many will have step-grandparents or a family friend who is almost as close as a grandparent and is given this moniker as a term of endearment. Every family is different!Many English speaking countries have variations of: Grandfather, Grandmother, Grandma, Grandpa, Nan, Nana, Nanna, Nanny, Gran, Granny, Pops, Gramps, Pawpaw or Grandad. If there are 2 grandmas, some families will change to Grandma-Mary and Grandma-Jane to avoid confusion.

Across the globe there are various common grandparent names too:

India – Nana and Nani and Dada and Dadai, Par-Nani, Par-nana, Par-dadi, Par-dada
Dutch and German – Oma and Opa
French – Papi and Mamie
Italian – Nonno and Nonna
Flanders (Belgium) – Pepee, Petje and Memee or Metje
Friesland – Pake and Beppe
Chinese – Wai po or Wai gong and Nai nai and Ye ye
Philippines – Lolo and Lola
Māori – Kuia or Tupuna or Koro
Japanese – O bachan or Ojichan

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While these are common, many families come up with their own names which is special to them or may use the grandparents first name to create a whole new name such as Grandbob.

Many grandparents are increasingly involved in the upbringing or care of their grandchildren, this is a trend seen across many countries and cultures world-wide. A reason for this could be is our life expectancy has increased and more generations are able to spend time together.

Looking after grandchildren can be fun and multi-beneficial however make sure it doesn’t become too demanding and you still have time for your own health and self-care.

Interestingly, since 2004 Singapore has grandparent caregiver tax, working parents with children who are being looked after by unemployed grandparents get an income tax relief of 3,000 Singaporean dollars. In New Zealand Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust offers support to around 7,500 full time grandparent carers in New Zealand every year.

If you’re about to become a grandparent take our fun grandma or grandpa quiz to see what grandparent name may suit you!

What is your grandparent name? Who came up with it? We’d love to hear from you!


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