Names for Family Relationships

Family Relationships in Norwegian

Want to tell a funny story about that crazy uncle? In talking to and about families in Norway you will, of course, want to use the proper words for family relationships in Norwegian. For example, morfar and farmor are both grandparents, but not at all the same.

This is also critical for genealogy research.

Don’t be intimidated! While it may seem a bit awkward at first, it is actually quite logical once you get the hang of it.

Remember, when speaking Norwegian:

  • words have a gender inherent to them (en, et, ei)
  • words that are part of a phrase get smashed together without a space, like grand mother has become grandmother

Norwegian Words for People

FamilyGeneral People

How to talk about family in Norwegian:

  • a family = en familie
  • a family member = et familiemedlem
  • a male relative = en relativ
  • a female relative = en relative

General people in Norwegian:

  • him = ham
  • her = henne
  • a person = en person
  • a human = et menneske

Words for Children In Norwegian

MaleFemaleGeneral & More Distant

Norwegian words for male children:

  • a boy = en gutt
  • a brother = en bror
  • a cousin = en fetter
  • a nephew = en nevø
  • a son = en sønn
  • a grandson = barnebarn
  • a great grandson = oldebarn

Norwegian words for female children:

  • a girl = en jente
  • a sister = en søster
  • a cousin = en kusine
  • a niece= en niese
  • a daughter = en datter
  • a granddaughter = et barnebarn
  • a great-granddaughter = et oldebarn

Norwegian words for children in general:

  • a baby = en baby
  • a child = et barn
  • cousins = søskenbarn
  • a grandchild = et barnebarn
  • a great grandchild = et oldebarn
  • a great-great grandchild = et tipp oldebarn
  • a great-great-great grandchild = et tipp-tipp oldebarn

Closely Related Adults In Norwegian


Norwegian words for close male family members:

  • a father (precise) = en far
  • a dad, daddy, papa (affectionate) = en pappa
  • a husband = en mann
  • a widower = en enkemann
  • a bachelor = en ungkar
  • an uncle = en onkel
  • a cousin = en fetter
  • a nephew = en nevø

Norwegian words for close female family members:

  • a mother (precise) = en mor
  • a mamma, mommy (affectionate) = en mama
  • a wife = en kone
  • a widow = en enke
  • a spinster = en peppermø
  • an aunt = en tante
  • a cousin = en kusine
  • a niece= en niese
Grown-ups, generally speaking:

  • a parent = en forelder
  • a man = en mann
  • a woman = en kvinne
  • a boyfriend, girlfriend, sweetheart = en kjæreste
  • an adult = en voksen

How to Say Grandparent In Norwegian

In Norwegian, grandparents are based on how they are related to you specifically. For example, when you say grandmother are you talking about the mother of your mother or of your father?

Father's ParentsMothers ParentsGeneral & More Distant

Norwegian words for the parents of a person’s father:

  • a grandfather (precise) = en farfar
  • a grandpa (affectionate) = en bestefar
  • a grandmother (precise) = en farmor
  • a grandma (affectionate) = en bestemor

Norwegian words for the parents of a person’s mother:

  • a grandfather (precise) = en morfar
  • a grandpa (affectionate) = en bestefar
  • a grandmother (precise) = en mormor
  • a grandma (affectionate) = en bestmor

A grandparent, generally speaking:

  • a grandfather = en bestefar
  • a great grandfather = en oldefar
  • a great great grandfather = en tippoldefar
  • a great great great grandfather = en tipp-tippoldefar
  • a grandmother = en bestemor
  • a great grandmother = en oldemor
  • a great great grandmother = en tippoldemor
  • a great great great grandmother = en tipp-tippoldemor
  • a grandparent = en besteforelder

Extended Family In Norwegian

Families can be complicated. Luckily, the word for that relationship doesn’t have to be! Here are simple words to tack on to the relationships we have just learned.

AdoptionBlended FamilyThe In-Laws


To denote that a relationship is not of blood, but of legal adoption, add adoptiv to the beginning of a relationship word. For example, barn means child so adoptivbarn means adopted child.

The Blended or Step-Family

To denote that a close relationship is not of blood, but of marriage, add ste to the beginning of a relationship word. For example, far means father so stefar means step-father.

The Family-In-Laws

To denote that a more distant relationship is not of blood, but of marriage, add sviger to the beginning of a relationship word. For example, far means father so svigerfar means father-in-law.

Pronunciation of Norwegian Family Words

Here is a video to learn how to pronounce many family relationship words in Norwegian!

Please comment!
Was there something that made this click for you? How will you use family words in Norwegian?
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  1. I heard there might be a Norwegian word for a sibling born a decade or more after the last. Do you know?

  2. I have a comment to the first box- Norwegian Words for People: In Norwegian, we definitely don’t use the words “en relativ/en relative”. The Norwegian word for relative, both male and female, is slektning.

  3. Hei,
    I’ve translated my mother’s family book from Dano-Norwegian to English. I didn’t translate the whole book, only our direct line.
    However, I did translate the famous Gerhard Schoening’s biography and other notables.
    I’ve also added some historical information and extended the book to include the family in the U.S.
    Below is the title page of my manuscript:

    THE SILVER BATON: A History of the Schoening Family for over 400 Years

    By Grete Roland,
    M.S.; MEd.;Ph.D.

    Translated, Adapted, and Extended
    from Nordlands-Slegten: Schoening
    i 360 Aar (Oslo 1928)
    by Jacob Marius Schoening

    I have also written a chap-book poem about being the child of Norwegian immigrants
    and it parallels the immigrant experience in the United States for many of us born outside
    our heritage country. It’s 53 pages long.
    Do you or do you know any Scandinavian organization that might be interested in publishing my works?
    Best regards, Grete

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