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The word ma is an informal way to say mother. Grandma is often combined with a name, especially when a person has two grandmothers that they call Grandma , as in Grandma Marg and Grandma Marie. The first records of the word grandma come from the s. The word ma is a shortening of mama , which is first recorded in the s but was certainly used in speech much earlier than that. The prefix grand- is used in family terms to indicate a person who is one generation removed, as in grandparent and grandchild. The prefix great- indicates yet another generation, as in great-grandma. Grandma is perhaps the most common variant of the word grandmother, but there are many others, including grandmom , gramma , grandmamma , gran , granny , and nana. Many families have their own specific version, such as meemaw and MaMotts. What are some synonyms for grandma? Grandma is perhaps the most common informal way of saying grandmother.