There are a few common ways to say “grandma” in Portuguese:

  • Vovó (Brazilian Portuguese): This is the most widely used term for paternal or maternal grandmothers in Brazil. The stressed vowel sound is long.
  • Vó (European Portuguese): A short version of the above term used more commonly in Portugal to refer to grandmothers in general.
  • Avó (Brazilian and European Portuguese): A more formal term that can be used for both grandmothers. Also stresses the first vowel.
  • Bisavó (Brazilian and European Portuguese): Means great-grandmother.
  • Vovó paterna/materna (Brazilian Portuguese): Specifies paternal or maternal grandmother if needed for clarification.
  • Avó paterna/materna: Formal version that distinguishes sides of the family.

So in summary:

  • Vovó – Common affectionate term for grandma in Brazil.
  • Vó – Short version used in Portugal.
  • Avó – More formal name that works in any Portuguese variant.

The gendered articles “a” or “o” may precede these terms depending on if it’s referring to your grandmother or someone else’s. Suffixes can also indicate paternal/maternal lineage when needed.

Josh Plotkin Changed status to publish August 25, 2023