In English, we have pet terms for mother and father. For example: Mom, Dad, Mummy, Daddy, Mamma, Papa

In Spanish, they have madre/padre. But do they have any pet terms as well? Does it vary between Spanish speakers in Spain and Hispanic speakers in America?

Edit: Ideally, I am looking for terms used by children primarily in America (USA). The most common ones.

  • This is a very broad question, as there are dozens (or more!) of regional variants. Can you focus your questions, perhaps by asking about a specific region? Listing all the possible pet names for parents will be impossible. See this meta post for additional guidance. Please comment or flag for moderator attention after you have edited the question, and I will promptly re-open it.
    – Flimzy
    Feb 11, 2015 at 15:45
  • By "America" do you mean all of Latin America, or do you mean the US? All of Latin America is incredibly broad still. I'm assuming you mean the US, and have tagged accordingly, and reopened.
    – Flimzy
    Feb 11, 2015 at 16:31
  • Yes, USA. I have updated the post.
    – big_smile
    Feb 11, 2015 at 18:11
  • I have seen that you asked the same question in another website. forums.tomisimo.org/showthread.php?p=153842
    – Tia27
    Feb 12, 2015 at 22:54

8 Answers 8


In Spain we use "madre" and "padre" when you refer to your parents (or somebody else's parents).

Mi padre le ha regalado a mi madre un collar por su cumpleaños.

Tu padre está un poco loco Juan.

El padre de Luis es muy estricto; la madre un poco menos.

We call then "papá" and "mamá" when addressing directly to them or when talking about them with our siblings.

Papá, ¿qué hay para cenar?

Mamá, papá quiere saber dónde has puesto sus revistas.

(Talking to my brother or sister) Ayer papá y mamá me echaron la bronca por llegar tarde.

There is also "papi" and "mami" (daddy, mamma/mammy), but they sound so cheesy that only small kids would use it.

I noticed that here in the States, where I live, people would say "My dad...". In Spain we use "Mi padre...". I think that some Latin American countries would use "Mi papá..." but in Spain saying "Mi papá...", unless you are a toddler, sounds like if you were saying "My daddy..." in English (little cultural differences).

I have heard many speakers from different Latin American countries use "papá" and "mamá" to refer to their parents to others, but I'm not sure if this is due to an influence of being in an English speaking country where they constantly hear "My dad..." of if it is also to norm in their own countries.

You could also use "papaíto" and even "mamaíta", but as with "papi" and "mami" only small children (or cheesy young adults) would use these terms.

  • 2
    Extending on this answer. At least in Argentina, it's common to address your parents just as "ma" and "pa". Also, it's becoming more common here to refer to your parents as "viejos" I the US, "My old lady" would mean your wife. In Argentina it would mean your mom. "Visité a mis viejos" --> lit. "I visited my old people" --> I visited my parents. Feb 11, 2015 at 21:07
  • 2
    @Mauricio, "pet terms" significa en este caso "término cariñoso". No tiene nada que ver con mascotas. "Pet" puede ser un sustantivo (mascota), un verbo (acariciar) o un adjetivo (que denota algo a lo que tienes especial cariño). En la propia pregunta el OP pone de ejemplos: "Mom, Dad, Mummy, Daddy, Mamma, Papa" que son términos cariñosos para referirte a tus progenitores en inglés, no a tus mascotas. El OP busca equivalentes en español, porque sólo conoce "madre/padre" para referirse a los padres. No busca la manera de referirse a un animal de compañía que tiene cachorros.
    – Diego
    Feb 11, 2015 at 22:40
  • 1
    @Diego Ahora entiendo. Gracias. comentarios eliminados Feb 11, 2015 at 22:45
  • 1
    @Mauricio, gracias a ti por las buenas formas. A veces la gente critica de forma no constructiva, o simplemente dice "no es del todo correcto" y te planta un downvote en lugar de ayudar a ampliar o mejorar la calidad de una respuesta. Así que gracias por la actitud positiva y cuestionar el contenido de la respuesta de forma educada y constructiva. :-)
    – Diego
    Feb 13, 2015 at 2:21
  • 1
    @Diego Gracias por su comentario :). Por cierto, estaba leyendo una vez mas la pregunta y me acordé de la película Monsters inc. ya que al final no hay spoilers, un niño en el campo llama a su progenitora como amá. Dice así: amá... se metió otro pejelagarto!..., para el padre he escuchado apá. Este tipo de nombres también podría aplicarlos a su respuesta, pero no tengo fuentes o referencias. (Otras abreviaciones son y ) supongo que como Cletus personaje de Los Simpsons. Feb 13, 2015 at 22:02

The US spanish has variations. The main ones are Mexican Spanish, and Caribbean Spanish (Cuban, Dominican, Puerto Rican):

In Mexico there are some words to adress parents:

Mamá and papá (papás for both): These are the main words in every day speech in every place you are, even with your boss at job.

Ma and pa (mom and dad): Normal pet term for adressing your parents

Jefa and jefe (litteraly boss, jefes for both): Another form, pretty common but not everyone uses this.

Mami and papi (mommy and daddy, papis for both): Normal for toddlers and to add a childish touch to your speech. "Hijo de papi o mami" is for someone who depends a lot of his parents, or is rich.

Madre and padre (Mother and father): These words sound too formal, it feels as if a character from a soup opera were talking. These are the formar words for thw written Spanish (you can say mamá to your boss but you can't write that in a letter, it's necessary the word "madre"). These words are commonly used to adress kids, especially parents for their children, but always as "mi padre" or "mi madre". And it's also used adress elder people "Dígame madre qué necesita.".

In other countries as Republica Dominicana i've heard:

Mai and pai (mom and dad)

Depends on country of origin of people.


In Puerto Rico it's not uncommon for people to use "mami" and "papi" into adulthood when speaking to someone who is friends or related to them as well. In public we would just use "mamá" or "papá" and "madre" and "padre" are more formal for us, like how "father" and "mother" are in English. We also use "ma/mai" and "pa/pai", which is usually used between young people from tweens to young adults in their 20s.

Sort of a sidebar here, I noticed that amongst relatives Mexicans will say "mi mamá/amá" "mi papá/apá" to thir brothers/sisters which I find a little odd. Does anyone know why that is? 🤔

  • No, but it's a feature of German too. May 3, 2018 at 5:22

I think the most common terms in the US (although most of my experience is in Mexico) would be «mamá» and «papá», and some slight variations such as «mami» or «papi». But every time I hear the latter I'm reminded of the part of the Will Smith song Miami where they say

¡Ay, papi!


I have heard and use "amá" and "apá".

  • Why is this answer getting negative scores? The words are indeed used very commonly in northwestern Mexico (Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa) and Southern California. Even more commonly than papá and mamá. Like “ma” and “pa” they’re a contraction of these but without dropping the first “a”. I would only recommend Eric to elaborate on the regional and colloquial usage of the words.
    – Krauss
    Nov 30, 2017 at 6:12

Just like @diego said you can use madre and padre when referring to your parents.

For example:

Mi madre es bonita

Mi padre es gordo.

Other ways could be "mama" and "papa", "pa" and "ma", and "mamá" and "papá"


In Baja California, I've often heard "mi amá" in the third person and "má" in the second. For father/dad I wasn't paying attention, or else I've forgotten.


Where I live we refer to our mom with ma' (from mamá) or jefa. With dads you can say pa' or jefe. Also , where I'm from, we do call our moms mamacita and our dads (papacito) but its usually when you want something back. For example: You're in a store with your mom and you see something that you want this is how that conversation would go "Mamacita bonita, could you buy me this, please?


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