In English, we have it easy – there are only 2 words for Uncle and Aunt! In Punjabi however, the words are different depending on what side of the family they are on and whether they are younger or older.

On this page, I will try to list all the different “relation” terms that are used in Sikh culture. It gets complicated, so bear with me!

Pita – Father

Maa – Mother

Puraa or Bahji – Brother

Behn – Sister

Thaiya – Father’s older brother

Thaiy – Father’s older brother’s wife

ChaCha – Father’s younger brother

ChaChi – Father’s younger brother’s wife

Bhua – Father’s sister

Fuffar – Father’s sisters husband

Mama – Mother’s brother

Mami – Mother’s brother’s wife

Masi – Mother’s sister

Masur – Mother’s sister’s husband

Baba – Grandpa (Paternal)

Bibi – Grandma (Paternal)

Nanaa– Grandpa (Maternal)

Nani– Grandma (Maternal)

Jija – Brother-in-law

Bhabi – Sister-in-law

Puttar – Son

Puttari – Daughter

This diagram might show it more clearly. Click to view a bigger image:

78 Responses to Family

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is not helpful because there is no punjabi lettering in it

  2. Anonymous says:

    What would you call a future mother-in-law and father-in-law, after engagement but before marriage?

    • Anonymous says:

      uncle and auntie

    • Qazi Shahbaz Parviez says:

      Father= aba ji, abu ji, bur’a, peao
      Mother= Ma, Ami, baybay
      Son= puut, munda
      Daughter = tee, kuri, teveen
      Brother = Paraa
      Sister= paayn
      Elder sister = wadi paayn, aapi
      Uncle(brother of father)= chaha
      Aunt (wife of brother of the father) = chachi
      Uncle (brother of mother) = mama
      Aunt ( wife of brother of mother) = mami
      Uncle (elder brother of father) = Taya
      Aunt (wife of elder brother of father) = Taai Ami
      Aunt (sister of father) = phuphi
      Uncle ( hunsband of father’s sister) = phuphar’
      Aunt (sister of mother) = masi, khalan
      Uncle (husband of mother’s sister) = masar’, khalu
      Husband’s brother = dayyoor
      Husband’s sister = nanaaan
      Son’s wife = no
      Daughter’s husband = panwaiya ( true punjabi)
      Wife’s brother= saala
      Wife’s sister = saali
      Wife’s / Husband’s Father = Soora
      Wife’s / Husband’s Mother = Sas

  3. Ranjeet Kaur says:

    quick question is your Maa parents not Nanna (Mum dad) Nanni (mum’s mum)?

  4. iqbal says:

    is “bhabi” supposed to be pronounced “bhabi” or “pabhi?” because i always hear “pabhi” when people say it.

    i always hear “pehn” instead of “behn.”

    i always hear “pua” instead of “bhua.”

    i always hear “paji” instead of “bhaji”

    are my ears not working correctly?

    • Anonymous says:

      in punjabi their are regional differences in pronunciation so sometimes the “bh” sounds can be swapped with “p”.

      both are totally fine and punjabi speakers will generally understand what the other person is saying since the meaning stays the same regardless of how it is pronounced.

    • Pinky Kaur says:

      You say patatoe I say patatoe

  5. Anonymous says:

    Very informative as my daughters partner mother wants their twins to call her Beebi ji sorry wrong spelling and wanted clairfication.

  6. Cynthia says:

    what means by too ji?

    • Anonymous says:

      i think its just a respect thing like when addressing someone older i add ji at the end

    • Anonymous says:

      “ji” is added to show respect. that’s how us sikh show respect to pepeole bigger than us. for example, if you look at the names of the gurus, the word “ji” is added to the end of every single one to show respect.

  7. gigglegutts says:

    sister in law is wrong. i call mine a “cunt” – sounds more appropriate

  8. Anonymous says:

    What do you call your husband sister in law ( his brothers wife) when talking to her face to face

    • Teg says:

      If ur husbands brother is younger then call her wife deyor rani
      If he”s older then jethani ….
      pronouncing these words are little differnt than writing, better ask some elder in house

  9. what do I call my punjabi husbands sister. she calls me bhabi but is it differently terminology for me to call her sister?

  10. Anonymous says:

    can i know wat to call my maser sister

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi I think there are a few missed off like deer, deerani, salla, salli, jiji and many more
    I understand the common ones explained here but the not so common would be helpful too

  12. Anonymous says:

    Where is bhabhi

  13. Anonymous says:

    What will u call ur husband ?
    Like wife is called voti

  14. Anonymous says:

    ??? ??? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?
    ??? ??? ?? ??? ???_
    ??? ?? ??? ?? ????? ???????,
    ??? ?? ??? ?? ???..

  15. Anonymous says:

    What will be say to grandson in law


    hello just want to make sure I will get the right message on some handkerchiefs so may be someone can advice how to write in Punjabi: The best dad…thanks a lot

  17. Anonymous says:

    gaint list

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hi there , ok so I just wanna make sure I use the correct spelling so I’m hoping someone can help me… my husband is punjabi and we had our daughter and I want to know how to spell grandpa in punjabi (my husband’s dad)

  19. My brothers grand kids call me Bapuji – where does that fit in your terminology.

  20. Anonymous says:

    What would I call my wife’s father or mother in Punjabi? (My father in law and mother in law, who are Punjabi parents of my wife)?

  21. Anonymous says:

    If anyone can help me. What do I call my son in law ‘s baba Ji ?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hi, what do you call great Grandfather (paternal) and Great Grand mother (paternal) – My wife is pregnant and I call my Grandparents Babba Ji and Bibi Ji. Then also what would my child call my Chacha Ji and Chachi Ji and my Pua Ji and Phuffar Ji? I know it’s a lot but for some reason no-body has written anything including this “extended” family but we are all very close.

    Thank you for any responses.

  23. Devica says:

    Thank you for this information. When i saw it, it brought a smile to my face. Well done for the attempt to inform the public for although there are some inaccuracies atleast you unlike others have done something wonderful.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I’m writing a story and have a small boy saying “Big brother” in Punjabi. Are the examples above what an infant would use or is there something more casual / endearing?

  25. Mansi says:

    In my family, my mom and nani have always called my prnani (my nani’s mom) “beeji”, so does beeji mean mom or nani???

  26. Inderpal says:

    Hi there, thank you for this informative list, can anyone tell me what my daughter would call my pua ji? I am the mother

  27. Anonymous says:

    what would someone call their grandfathers sister?

  28. Anonymous says:

    This website has been very helpful
    I found what I was looking for
    Thank you!

  29. Eshan Kapoor says:

    Some info is right so is wrong I speak hindi and Punjabi and most of this is kind of wrong

  30. Anonymous says:


  31. MsShona says:

    I love this – thank you! My grandmother (father’s mother) was the child of Indian indentured servants in the Caribbean. I recently started researching my family. Understand, I am a Black American, with very limited knowledge of anything Indian. But I have a great-aunt & uncle that we call “Nana & Nani”. There is also a cousin we call “Mr. Pati”. I’m floored that these nicknames actually mean something! Understand, there are no living members of my family who speak Hindi, Punjabi, or anything of the like. BTW, the first hint I received that there may be more to the names is in the footnotes to the book “Coolie Woman” by Gaiutra Bahadur. She had the terms translated in her book, so kudos to her as well!

  32. Anonymous says:

    idont understand about it ,, if it really hindi or punjabi coz some words r not punjabi its hindi languages

  33. Anonymous says:

    A lot of thing are mentioned wrong. It’s not a useful article. Seems written by some UK born person who do not know anything about punjabi culture.

    Dadi is grandmother(paternal) and Nani is
    Maternal grandmother.

    It’s behn not pehn
    It’s Bhua not pua
    Pati means husband
    Patni or wohti means wife
    Aadmi means a male
    Themee means a female
    Bhabi is sister in law not pabhii

  34. Kaur says:

    Great list but some corrections needed!

    Maternal Grandfather – Nana
    Maternal Grandmother – Nani

    Paternal Grandfather – Dada
    Paternal Grandmother – Dadi

    Baba or Papa can be used for either maternal or paternal grandfather
    Bebe or Bibi or Beejee can be used for either mat/pat grandmother

    Note: the suffix of “Jee” should be added at the end of every relation for respect. It would be considered rude to address an elder without “Jee” at the end. ie) Grandfather = Baba Jee 🙂


  35. Vince says:

    Thanks for the feedback – if you have suggestions for any changes, please let me know in the comments.

  36. GS Narula says:

    I reciprocate Sukhmandir Kaur, However I was born in Panjab and had early upbringing in Panjab I feel some of the words are slightly away from correct pronunciation. I am available to discuss or help if you feel so.
    With regards and Best wishes in your mission
    GS Narula

  37. This is a great list and diagram for understanding family relationships!

  38. Pingback: | The English Sikh

  39. Pingback: Family structure | The English Sikh

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