Our Favorite Names for a Mother-in-Law

Getty Mother In Law Couple At Table
Photo: Mareen Fischinger

After the wedding, your mother-in-law becomes the newest member of your extended family, and it's time to get to know her. What do you call her? They always say that when you marry, you marry the family, and we have a few cute ideas for what to call your brand-new mother-in-law. When she visits, you don't want to stumble over her name, so talk to her and decide how you'll refer to her. It's a small thing, but it makes a big difference. Will you identify her by her last name? First name? Another name entirely? Whether Mrs. Jones, Nina, or Nana, we have a few ideas for you. Your mother-in-law could very well become your new best friend. After the I-dos are all said and done, here are our favorite names for mothers-in-law.

01 of 20

Keeping Things Formal

Mother-in-Law Name: Formal Name

Classic and elegant. If your relationship is more formal, calling her by her last name might be perfect.

02 of 20

Keeping Things Casual

Mother-in-Law Name: First Name

It's great to get on a first-name basis with your mother-in-law. Calling your MIL by her first name is a popular way to go, and most daughters-in-law and sons-in-law do it…until the kids come along with a grandma name. When that happens, Gam-Gam is Gam-Gam forevermore.

03 of 20

Staying In-between

Mother-in-Law Name: Miss

A blend of formal and informal, this mother-in-law name shows deference but also keeps things casual. Adding "Miss" is as Southern as can be.

04 of 20

Staying Merry

Mother-in-Law Name: Mama Initial

Add her first initial to Mama, and you have a ready-made nickname. Mama T, or B, or G, is both light-hearted and affectionate.

05 of 20

Keeping Things Easy

Mother-in-Law Name: Mama First Name

Keep it easy but not quite so informal. Add her first name to Mama, and it is too catchy for its own good.

06 of 20

Sticking with Tradition

Mother-in-Law Name: Mimi

Mimi is a classic. It's also a very popular nickname for grandma that can be used the next generation, too.

07 of 20

Keeping Things Southern

Mother-in-Law Name: Big Mama

Perhaps the most reverent of mother-in-law names, a Big Mama is the most Southern of hostesses, and a darn good cook to boot.

08 of 20

Staying Undercover

Mother-in-Law Name: M.I.L

Give your mother-in-law her own code name by calling her M.I.L, and add a little James Bond/secret agent flavor to your phone calls and emails.

09 of 20

Keeping it Witty

Mother-in-Law Name: MeMaw

A little anecdote: I once knew a son-in-law who called his mother-in-law MeMaw because he knew how much she hated it and liked to give her a little good-natured ribbing. But MeMaw is a long accepted nickname used for grandmas around the South.

10 of 20

Keeping it Efficient

Mother-in-Law Name: Nan

A variant of Nana, Nan is in between affectionate and practical. Both nicknames have British origins.

11 of 20

Thinking Long Term

Mother-in-Law Name: GiGi

If you have kids, you'll end up calling your mother-in-law by her anointed grandmother name—Grandma, Gams, GiGi, MawMaw, or Grams—she'll love it.

12 of 20

Having Fun

Mother-in-Law Name: Me-Me

Affectionate and sweet, a Meme is always there for you. This one comes from Mémé, a French moniker for grandma.

13 of 20

Keeping it Short and Sweet

Mother-in-Law Name: Ma

How easy is this one? Can't you just hear yourself calling Ma on the phone for advice?

14 of 20

Staying Classic and Respectful

Mother-in-Law Name: Mom

When your mother-in-law becomes "Mom," you'll know you've hit a new level of friendship. This one truly embraces tying the knot.

15 of 20

Giving Her Swag

Mother-in-Law Name: Moms

Moms is for the most casual and cool of MILs. And Moms will tell it straight when you talk to her.

16 of 20

Respecting Royalty

Mother-in-Law Name: Queen Mother

Queen Mother means business. Using this nickname is a slightly cheeky way to acknowledge the matriarch of the family.

17 of 20

Keeping it Sweet

Mother-in-Law Name: Sugar

She's sweet as sugar and you want to let her know. And maybe you love whatever she's baking in the oven, too.

18 of 20

Keeping it in the Kitchen

Mother-in-Law Name: Cookie

For the mother-in-laws who are legendary for their oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. Cookie is the darling of the family and someone you can always count on for a comforting hug.

19 of 20

Keeping it Dignified

Mother-in-Law Name: Your Highness

Let's be honest, this is what she really wants anyway. But make sure you say this one with affection and your tongue firmly in your cheek.

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