Oma And Opa Meaning And Where They Come From | Doublespeak Dojo (2023)

Familiar names for grandparents and parents are common in many languages and cultures. Sometimes these names are made up words from children that can’t pronounce common ones. Other times they are in common use. So, what is the Oma and Opa meaning and what languages and cultures use them?

Oma and Opa are familiar names given to a grandparents in German. Oma is used for grandmother (die Großmutter) and Opa for grandfather (der Großvater). Being a West Germanic language, Dutch uses them in the same way. Korean has similar sounding words, but for mother, father, and older brother.

Let’s look at each of these cultures and how they use them a little closer. As a grandmother (Oma – Großmutter) and my husband being a grandfather (Opa – Großvater) with German heritage, we have a growing number of grandkids (Enkelkinder). Also when my husband was studying Korean, the first words he learned were family familiar names.

Oma And Opa Meaning And Where They Come From | Doublespeak Dojo (1)


  • 1 What Does Oma And Opa Mean In German?
  • 2 What Does Oma And Opa Mean In Dutch?
    • 2.1 The Many Spoken Languages In The Netherlands Affects The Use Of Oma And Opa
    • 2.2 The Netherlands has a high representation of English, German, French, And Spanish.
  • 3 What Does Oma And Opa Mean In Korean?
  • 4 What Do World Cultures Call Grandparents Other Than Oma And Opa?
  • 5 The Final Talking Point On Oma And Opa…

What Does Oma And Opa Mean In German?

For many little ones in Germany some of their favorite people besides their parents are their grandparents. As with most kids around the world they don’t call them by their proper names, and usually don’t simply use the equivalent of grandmother or grandfather. So, what do children in Germany call their grandparents?

In German, der Opa is a familiar name given to a grandfather or der Großvater. When talking about multiple grandpas it is die Opas. The diminutive form is das Opi. The German name for grandmother is die Großmutter and Oma in the familiar. The plural is die Omas and the diminutive is das Omi.

This is true of many kids, but of course not all. Some use unintelligible words that they came up with as toddlers. Many families see it as cute and go with it for many years. Others have cultural or religious connotations for grandparents.

In even some cases, there are specific nicknames that individual grandparents went by for a good portion of their lives that their grandkids picked up on and began using. These names can be personal to either or both.

Yet, there is also another way some may use oma and opa in a negative way.

We have all at one point or another heard someone refer to an elderly man or woman that may be moving or driving slowly with, “Hurry up grandpa!” This same usage occurs in German as well.

Though the word has a similar meaning, the intention is unkind or derogatory.

If you would like to read more about languages in Germany, I recommend my other articles…

  • How Common Is Spoken English In Germany?
  • How Common Is Spoken French In Germany?

What Does Oma And Opa Mean In Dutch?

With Dutch and German both being West Germanic languages, would this same meaning apply to grandparents in the Netherlands as well? There are similarities in the modern forms of each of these languages, but there are many differences as well. So, what does oma and opa mean in Dutch?

In Dutch, opa is said by grandchildren to their grandfather or grootvader. The plural version is opa’s. To use the diminutive form it is said as opaatje. The Dutch name given to a grandmother is grootmoeder and oma in the familiar. The plural is oma’s and the diminutive is omaatje.

With the Netherlands being home to so many bilingual speakers and the influence of other languages in the country being so strong, this makes for an environment where grandparent names can take other forms.

The Many Spoken Languages In The Netherlands Affects The Use Of Oma And Opa

There is one official language in the Netherlands, Dutch. It is spoken by 98% of the population and is the language of business, education, and entertainment.

Yet, the Dutch people are also known for being a highly bilingual society and culture. There are a great many people in the Netherlands that speak several of the other European languages found in neighboring countries.

The Netherlands has a high representation of English, German, French, And Spanish.

Let’s take a look at the percentages of the population that speak these other languages and then we can get an idea of what other names children may use for grandmas and grandpas.

Languages Spoken In The NetherlandsPercentage Of The Population

As you can see, with such large percentages of the population speaking these different languages, it is inevitable that many will be bilingual and even trilingual.

Though this is the case in many countries in Europe, it is more pronounced in the Netherlands with its high level of education, international shipping ports and airports, and large amounts of tourism.

Oma And Opa Meaning And Where They Come From | Doublespeak Dojo (2)

The names given to family members by children can sometimes in these types of environments take on other forms due to the influences of other languages and their cultures. In all fairness, this can be the case in Germany as well. Yet, in Germany there is a very strong sense of the Germany language and culture.

Oma and opa in the Netherlands is a primary designation for grandparents due to Dutch and German usage. But there can be other terms from English, French, and Spanish that see some occurrences.

Other forms of familiar names given to grandparents in the Netherlands could be one of these more popular names in influential foreign languages of their neighboring countries…

Influencing languageFamiliar For GrandmotherFamiliar For Grandfather
EnglishNana (American) or Baba (British)Papa (American) or Pop (British)

This is a similar situation with our family even though we all live in the overt monolingual society in the United States. Our son has three daughters, all of which use a traditionally American moniker for their mother’s parents.

Her parents are of Asian descent and come from Korea and Vietnam. Yet, the names they are called are the English grandpa and grandma. They chose these traditionally English names for themselves even though they were both born in other countries with their own native tongues.

On the other hand, due to my husband’s German heritage and my side of the family having some connections to it as well, we are called by the German oma and opa. We were both born and raised in the Southern United States in a very monolingual culture.

All of us living in the united states take inspiration in this way from many different influences. The same thing can happen in the Netherlands with even more opportunity for diversity.

If you liked this article and want to know more about languages in the Netherlands, see my other article here…

  • How Common Is Spoke German In The Netherlands?

What Does Oma And Opa Mean In Korean?

These same sounds show up in the Korean language referring to parental figures, but not in the same way as in Dutch and German. Oma and opa, though they vary slightly in pronunciation, are names use by children in the home. If this is the case what do they mean to Korean families?

The Korean usage of oma is more precisely represented in the Romanized alphabet as eomma (엄마). It means mom in Korean as opposed to grandmother like in German and Dutch. Opa means older brother (oppa – 오빠) not grandfather and apa (ahppa – 아빠) means father.

The terms used for grandparents are quite different. In Korean the term for grandmother is Halmeoni (할머니), but for young children Halmi (할미). For grandfather the word is Halabeoji (할아버지) or the even more familiar for small children Hal-bi (할비).

Oma and opa (ahppa more precisely in Korean) are used in this immediate family context not in a direct contrast to the German and Dutch, but more in a happenstance.

Small children are taught to speak using limited vowels that they can easily pronounce. This combined with a limited set of consonant sounds as well, and you can see how similar words can form in languages even though one cannot claim influence over the other.

Another note here is pronunciation. For instance, the Korean version of mom is eomma with the emphasis on the last syllable. In German this word for grandma had the emphasis on the ‘oh’ sound at the beginning: Oma.

What Do World Cultures Call Grandparents Other Than Oma And Opa?

We see that there are at least three languages and cultures that use Oma and Opa as familiar names for either grandparents or other close family members. But what are other popular shortened versions used for grandparents in other countries?

Here I will list some of the names given to Grandpa and Grandma in the most populous countries and popular languages…

CountryOfficial LanguagesGrandpaGrandma
ChinaMandarin ChineseYé yeNǎi nai
IndiaHindi – EnglishDada / NanaDadi / Nani
IndonesiaIndonesian – JavaneseKakekNenek
PakistanUrdu – EnglishDada / NanaDaadi / Naani
RussiaRussiandedushka (ded)Babushka (baba)
PhilippinesFilipino – EnglishLoloLola
TurkeyTurkishDedeAnneanne / Babaanne

As with all familiar terms, be careful when using them outside of extremely familiar contexts and some of them are normally reserved for small children. An example is the Russian familiar for grandma. It can be a derogatory term for a woman out of context.

One thing to notice here is the short forms and abbreviations that occur in most every language. It makes sense when you think about who is usually using these words. Young children as early as toddler ages call their grandparents by these names for the most part.

This is why we see oma and opa in such short forms in German, Dutch, and Korean. Little mouths and minds are trying to master the language and these short (and admittedly cute) little words make it a bit easier for them.

The Final Talking Point On Oma And Opa…

Though many may immediately tell you that oma and opa are German words, you now can see that Dutch and even Korean children use them as well.

Make sure to know the context and what the these familiar style words mean though. oma and opa have completely different meanings in Korean than in German and Dutch.

As well, in some cultures there really is not need for adults to use these words whereas in others it is fine in the right context. Just keep in mind the cultural norms and the proper meanings of the words and you will have no problem adding them to your vocabulary.



Where does Omi and Opi come from? ›

They are from German. It's very common for German speakers to refer to their grandparents informally or affectionately as die Oma (grandmother) and der Opa (grandfather). The standard German words are Großmutter and Großvater.

Where does Oma grandma come from? ›

Oma. The German word "großmutter" translates to "grandmother." But the short and sweet "Oma" is a common nickname for a female grandparent.

What does Oma and Opa mean? ›

It's very common for German speakers to refer to their grandparents informally or affectionately as die Oma (grandmother) and der Opa (grandfather). The standard German words are Großmutter and Großvater.

Where did OMA come from? ›

Germany: Oma is one of the most popular international names for grandmothers and is often used to address grandmothers with no German heritage.

What's the meaning of OMI? ›

grandma. (Translation of Omi from the GLOBAL German–English Dictionary © 2018 K Dictionaries Ltd)

What language is OMI from? ›

Omi is a Central Sudanic language, spoken in the Aru Territory, Orientale Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, between the two rivers Nzoro and Lowa. It was once considered a dialect of the Keliko language, but requires separate literature. Nilo-Saharan?

What countries call their grandparents Oma and Opa? ›

Europe. Europe, like Asia and Africa, is rich with its diversity in languages, which means there are so many beautiful ways to name our grandparents! In Germany, our grandmothers are Oma and grandfathers Opa. Italians call theirs Nonna and Nonno respectively.

Where does grandma's come from? ›

Etymology. From Middle English graundmodre, grauntmoder, granmoder; equivalent to grand- +‎ mother. Compare French grand-mère.

Where does the word OPA come from? ›

Opa (Greek: ώπα) is a common North African and East Mediterranean emotional expression. It is frequently used during celebrations such as weddings or traditional dancing.

What does OPA stand for? ›

The actual meaning of "opa!" is more like "Oops" or "Whoops!" Among Greeks, you might hear it after someone bumps into something or drops or breaks an object.

What language is OPI and OMI? ›

What does 'allez opi-omi' mean? The sign is a combination of two languages, French and German. "Allez" means "go" in French, according to Google Translate, while "opi" and "omi" are German terms for "grandpa" and "grandma," according to So the sign would translate to "Go grandpa-grandma."

What does the Hebrew word oma mean? ›

In Hebrew Baby Names the meaning of the name Oma is: Cedar tree.

What does the Latin word oma mean? ›

oma: Suffix meaning a swelling or tumor.

What is the meaning of oma? ›

noun. gran [noun] (British, informal) grandmother. grandma [noun] (informal) grandmother. granny [noun] a grandmother.

What is OMI God? ›

idiom informal. B1. used to emphasize how surprised, angry, shocked, etc.

What is OMI in Hebrew? ›

grandma, granny, nan.

What is OMI in Yoruba language? ›

It means "water remained after (as replacement)." Omi (water) is a prefix used for a number of names for devotees of Yorùbá river deities such as Yemo̩ja, Erinlè̩, etc. The name can suggest a series of abiku or still births where intervention by one of the water deities prevented further child deaths.

What nationality is Oma and Opa? ›

Opa and oma originated in Germany, but they're cute enough to use just about anywhere. Nonna or Nona is Italian for grandmother (did you ever read Strega Nona to your kids?), and the masculine version of that is simply Nonno. Call grandma Lolly and you've got a super-sweet combo.

What does OMI mean grandma? ›

As others have said, Omi is a diminutive for Oma, grandmother. In German, the word has no other additional meaning, nor is it a composite of other words. In Afrikaans, however, grandma is also ouma. With the difference that it can be literally interpreted as “old mother”.

What does OMA mean in Germany? ›

oma (plural omas) (among people of German ancestry) grandmother, grandma.

What do Irish call grandma? ›

Ireland (Gaelic)

While maimeó anddaideó are the words used to address a grandmother or grandfather, there are a few different words for grandparents in Irish. For example, there are máthair chríona, which translates to “wise mother,” and athair críonna which translates to “wise father.”

What is the Nigerian word for grandma? ›

In the Zulu language, grandmothers are called gogo, or ugogo. In Swahili it's bibi, in Sudanese, nini, and in Somali, ayeeyo. In the Igbo language of Nigeria, the word is nne nne. In the Maori language, the word is kuia.

What is the Irish nickname for grandma? ›

-Irish: In Gaelic, grandmother translates to “Seanmháthair,” which means old mother. Some other popular Irish grandmother names are “Mhamó,” “Mamó,” “Maimeó” and “Móraí.”

What are black grandma names? ›

The most popular southern grandmother names are Mamaw, Mawmaw, Memaw, Nana, and Mimi.

What is a Southern name for grandma? ›

And if you live in the south, there's a good chance you call your grandmother Mamaw or Mawmaw—the most popular nickname in 7 states mostly in the south and along the Appalachians. Texas is the lone holdout for Mimi while folks in the Northeast prefer Grammie or Nana.

What is the coolest grandpa name? ›

Trendy Grandpa Names
  • Buzzy.
  • Chief.
  • G-Dog.
  • Geepa.
  • Granddude.
  • Grumpy.
  • Pip.
  • Popz.
Mar 25, 2021

What is the root word of grandma? ›

grandmother (n.) early 15c., from grand- + mother (n. 1), probably on analogy of French grand-mère.

What do the Scottish call their grandparents? ›

In comparison Granny is the most adored name for Scottish grandmothers with 45% of people in Edinburgh using it and 31% in Glasgow. Less than 10% of Scots use the name Nanny. For grandfathers the most popular name nationwide by far is Grandad (68%) - with over two thirds using this name.

What do they call grandma in England? ›

What do you call a British grandma? For British grandmothers the top five names in order of popularity at a national level are Nan (33%), Grandma (32%), Nana (24%), Nanny (22%) and Granny (14%). Only one-in-ten use the term Gran.

Where did OPA start? ›

OPA!'s founder and Greek-native, Niko Tiginagas, opened the very first OPA! location in Calgary's Market Mall in 1998, and its quick rise to success led him to sell his first franchise location shortly thereafter.

What does OPA mean Greek? ›

OPA is a Greek Word that may be used as an 'Exclamation', or 'Utterance', or 'Declaration', or 'Affirmation' or a lovingly gentle way of telling you to 'Stop' ... depending on the situational context.

What is another name for OPA? ›

An oropharyngeal airway (also known as an oral airway, OPA or Guedel pattern airway) is a medical device called an airway adjunct used in airway management to maintain or open a patient's airway.

What does OPA mean in Latin? ›

opacus, opaca, opacum. #1. adjective. Definitions: dark, shaded.

What does OMI and OPI mean? ›

Grandma and Grandpa, I'm on TV!

The translation of “allez opi-omi” is “Go Grandpa and Grandma”, with “allez” meaning “go” in French and “opi-omi” being a derivative of “grandpa and grandpa” in German.

What does OPI mean German? ›

grandpa, granddad, granddaddy, grandaddy, grandfather. grandpa, gran(d)dad. Opi Opa.

What does OPI mean in translation? ›

Over-the-phone interpretation (OPI) is an interpretation service that involves a three-way call. The interpreter facilitates the conversation between the two parties who are speaking different languages.

What does oma mean in Greek? ›

-oma (wpa), constitute a genuine Greek suffix and that the combination properly. means growth or tumor. We shall show that the true suffix is -ma (na) which. means the result or effect of an action. In ancient Greek -ma was a common suffix attached to verb stems to form.

What does oma mean in islam? ›

• Executive Order No. 122-A (January 30,1987) created the Office on Muslim Affairs (OMA) to ensure the rights and well-being of Muslim Filipinos.

What does Bubbe mean in Hebrew? ›

Bubbe, Zayde. Pronounced "Bubbeh" or "Bubbee" and "Zaydeh" or "Zaydee". The Yiddish words for grandmother and grandfather. Chanukah. Literally, "dedication" in Hebrew.

What is OMA used for? ›

OMA-DM is a protocol specified by the Open Mobile Alliance and is often used in the context of complex structured mobile solutions. It is often preferred by service providers to implement device management for mobile devices. These devices include mobile phones, tablets, and similar devices.

What means OPI OMI? ›

The placard read "allez opi omi" which is French/German for Go grandpa-grandma.

What does OPI OMI mean in English? ›

Ope is a tiny exclamation of surprise, a word you would use if, say, you accidentally bumped into somebody. As in: “Ope, sorry!” People on Twitte swear it's a Midwestern thing. You know you're from the Midwest if you've been saying “ope” for anything slightly inconvenient since the womb.

What nationality is OMI for Grandma? ›

The word is commonly used with a definite article in most parts of central Germany, southern Germany, and Austria: Wo ist die Omi? – “Where is Grandma?” In northern Germany—and generally in writing—no article tends to be used: Wo ist Omi?

What does OPI mean in language? ›

A valid and reliable means of assessing how well a person speaks a language. The OPI is proficiency-based. It assesses the ability to use language effectively and appropriately in real-life situations. It assesses spontaneous unrehearsed language.

Does OPI mean grandpa? ›

Usage notes. The word is commonly used with a definite article in most parts of central Germany, southern Germany, and Austria: Wo ist der Opi? – "Where is Grandpa?" In northern Germany—and generally in writing—no article tends to be used: Wo ist Opi?

What does OMI mean in law enforcement? ›

The Office of Municipal Investigations (OMI) is responsible for coordinating the receipt, analysis and investigation of citizen complaints of alleged misconduct by employees of the City of Pittsburgh. This includes uniformed personnel such as Fire , Police, EMS, and Building Inspection employees.

Does Omi mean water? ›

Meaning of Omí Saidé

It means "water remained after (as replacement)." Omi (water) is a prefix used for a number of names for devotees of Yorùbá river deities such as Yemo̩ja, Erinlè̩, etc.

What is de meme in French? ›

de même : likewise, similarly, equally.

What does la meme mean in French? ›

feminine noun (informal) 1. (= grand-parent) granny.

What is French DOA? ›

(= dead on arrival) décédé(e) à l'admission.

What is the African name for grandma? ›

In the Zulu language, grandmothers are called gogo, or ugogo. In Swahili it's bibi, in Sudanese, nini, and in Somali, ayeeyo. In the Igbo language of Nigeria, the word is nne nne.


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