Endearing ways to say “Mother” around the world

A time dedicated to pay tribute to mothers all over the world and celebrate motherhood, Mother’s Day became an official U.S. holiday in 1914 and usually falls on the second Sunday of May in most countries worldwide. The date changes annually because it is linked to Easter, which is different every year as it is determined by the lunar calendar. In the U.K., it is held exactly three weeks before Easter. While observation dates and celebrations vary, this holiday traditionally involves presenting flowers, cards, and gifts to mothers, and in the digital age, sharing “throwback” photos and greetings on social networks.

This year, we asked Gengo staff from 16 different nationalities: What are the endearing ways people in your country address their mother? Turns out there’s quite a few names out there!


Celebrates Mother’s Day: second Sunday of May

  • Mom, Mommy, Momma, Mama, Maman (Quebecoise)


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: second Sunday of May

  • Mamma, Ma


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: second Sunday of May

  • Mum, Mummy, Mother, Mumma, Ma


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: second Sunday of May

  • Oka-san (お母さん), Ka-san (母さん), Oka-chan (お母ちゃん), Ka-chan (母ちゃん), Mama (ママ), Ofukuro (お袋)

The way the Japanese address their parents is based on respect and hierarchy. It may also change over the years. Children would normally use “Mama” but when they grow up, some would address their mothers as oka-san or ka-san. On the other hand, oka-sama (お母様) is considered the most respectful way to refer to someone else’s mother.

Image by @kayonokami via Twenty20


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: Last Sunday of May (France), second Sunday of May (Belgium)

  • Maman (ma.mɑ̃)
    (The “n” is silent but it makes the “a” nasal)


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: second Sunday of May

  • 媽媽 (Māmā), 媽咪 (Māmi), 母親 (Mǔqīn), 娘 (), 卡桑 (Ka-san)


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: Second Sunday of May

  • Mama, Ma, Mummy, Mum, Ibu (Bahasa Melayu), Amma (Tamil)


Celebrates Women’s Day on: March 8 and October 20

  • Mẹ, Má, Mạ, Mệ, Bu, Bầm, U

Vietnam honors mothers and all women in society every 8th March, International Women’s Day, and every 20th October, National Women’s Day.

Image source


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: second Monday of October

  • Amai, Ama, Mama, Mom


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: first Sunday of May

  • Mamá, Mami


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: second Sunday of May

  • Inay, ‘Nay, Nanay, Ma, Mama, Mom, Mami, Mommy, Momsy

In the Philippines, where figures of speech are commonly used in everyday language, mother is referred to as “ilaw ng tahanan”, which means, “light of the home.”

Image by Din Jimenez via Flickr under CC


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: March 8 (with International Women’s Day)

  • Мама (Mama), мамочка (Mamochka), мамуля (Mamulya), маменька (Mamen’ka)

In Russia, мама (Mama, Mom) has many diminutive forms and the meaning varies slightly depending on usage. A typical affectionate way to address one’s mom is мамочка (Mamochka), мамуля (Mamulya) is used in an affectionate and playful sense, маменька (Mamen’ka) is affectionate and old-fashioned, while маманя (Mamanya) is affectionate but disdainful.


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: last Sunday of May

  • Mama (ماما)


Celebrates Mother’s Day on: first Sunday of May

  • Anyu, Anyus, Anci

Do you have a special name you call your mother? How do people address mothers in your country? Share them with us below!


Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.

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