Forget Grandma and Grandad, there are a whole host of grandparents out there with incredibly unique names given to them by their grandkids. And most of them wouldn’t change it for the world.
In the UK, typical names given to grandparents include Nan, Granny, Grandpa or Grampa. And, of course, if grandparents are of European descent, you might even have traditional names for them like Oma and Opa, or Nonna and Nonno.
But there’s also a cohort of grandparents out there with unusual names that have come about in a more random fashion. So, where exactly do these quirky monikers come from?
Christine Sadler, 72, is known affectionately as ‘Mack’ by her grandchildren.
“My first grandson was about two when he watched the Disney movie Cars,” she tells HuffPost UK. “After that he started calling me, his grandmother, Mack.
“My daughter and I could only figure out it was after the Mack truck that looked after the Lightning McQueen car.”
Her grandson is now 14 and Sadler, who is based in Canada, asked him a few years back why he called her Mack. “He just said, ‘because I like to call you Mack!’ and has no recollection. Since then every other grandchild has been told that my name is Mack. It stuck,” she says.
For Lorraine Gibson, it was Lord of the Rings that inspired her daughters’ naming of their grandfather, who they fondly labelled Gandalf. (Much to his delight.)
“It all came about when The Hobbit was on one particular Christmas when Molly and Tilly were about five and three,” says Gibson. “They weren’t watching, but must have heard the name being repeated as they played and, knowing nothing about who or even what Gandalf was, just seamlessly morphed Grandad into Gandalf.”
Their grandad – who has since sadly passed away – “was a lovely guy and he loved being a ‘wizard’,” says Gibson. “Having grey hair and big bushy eyebrows (no beard, alas) the name suited him and he happily played along and answered to Gandalf for many years.”
And at least he wasn’t named after a cartoon shark... “My son started calling his maternal grandmother Shark at about a year old during the height of the Baby Shark popularity,” April Upshaw from Arizona previously told HuffPost. “It stuck, and now he and his brother both refer to her as Sharkie.”
A lot of the time, kids will try to say grandma or grandad and will just, well, struggle. Christine Sadler’s husband Stephen, also 72, was given the name Appa, because their first grandchild couldn’t pronounce Grandpa properly.
“That one has stuck as well,” she adds. “We have five grandchildren now and they all call us Mack and Appa.”
Mispronunciations make for some truly adorable grandparent names though, like little Arlo (aged two-and-a-half) who couldn’t pronounce Grandad when he was one, so called him Gaggoo for a period of time.
“We tried to keep it going for as long as possible because it sounded cute, until his cousin corrected him,” says his mum, Ruth Chipperfield, from Birmingham. “I still kept it going but because I speak German with him he then thought ‘Gaggoo’ was German for Grandad.”
It’s not unusual for mispronunciations to stick – my own mum is lovingly referred to as Gaga (as my daughter couldn’t say grandma when she was very little), while Catherine Wasley recalls how her younger brother couldn’t pronounce grandma when he was a toddler so she ended up being called Jam Jar instead.
Sometimes the way a grandparent looks – or acts – can prompt the name they end up with. Natalie Ormond’s dad landed himself with the title of Grandad Bla Bla, while her mum got off lightly with the moniker Grandma.
“When my oldest son was very small this was his name for them as he said they would always call or FaceTime and chatter, which sounded like blablabla,” says Ormond, who is based in Leeds.
“They can see the funny side but they blame me and say I must have been complaining about their calls – which is possible.”
Victoria Griffiths, from Essex, recalls how her nan came home with a new hair do one day and her mum remarked: “You look like Mick Jagger!”
After everyone had recovered from the hysterics that ensued, from that day on she was referred to as Nanny Jagger by the whole family – all 11 grandchildren and almost 30 great grandchildren.
So, if you’re ever worried that you don’t know what your kids should call their grandparents, just hold fire – chances are they’ll come up with something brilliant, and totally memorable, all on their own.