As far as I can tell, Russian has no word for 'grandparents' the same way as it has Родители, and you are stuck saying Бабушка и дедушка if you're talking about your grandparents.

What if you're saying something like "the country was built by the grandparents of the current residents"? (as an example)

Surely there is a less cumbersome word that can be used here!

6 Answers 6


Imho, there is no precise analgue for 'grandparents' in Russian. I think you should use word "предки" in your example. "страна была построена предками нынешних жителей"

  • That's a good one. Even though it means "ancestors", it can be used in some cases (like in example in the question) to broadly speak of previous generation.
    – InitK
    Jan 26, 2016 at 16:51

Russian does not have a collective word from "grandparents" indeed.

If you are speaking about grandparents' achievements, synecdoches like деды or отцы и деды could be used: страну построили отцы и деды тех, кто населяет её теперь. ("Synecdoche" means using a word for part to name the whole or vice versa).

  • Not sure that this is synecdoche, just not completed enumeration. IMHO we can't say just деды because дед it is not so neutral as we would like to translate. Adding "отцы" - 100% neutral word solves this problem - now we neutral enough. Dec 19, 2018 at 0:13
  • Definetly synecdoche would be "страну построил отец и дед того, кто населяет её теперь" - btw, this sounds even better. Dec 19, 2018 at 0:15

Plural старики (English: old people) in conjunction with the relative pronoun can be used in the colloquial with a sense of old parents, grandparents (also parents in the youth slang):

  • Слушай, а что же твои старики?
  • Дорогие мои старики, дайте я вас сейчас расцелую!

Plural отцы, праотцы, деды, прадеды can be used as an archaism with a sense of предки (English: ancestors, previous generation):

  • Как жили деды да прадеды, так и нам жить велели.
  • Бог Авраама и Исаака и Иакова, Бог отцов наших, прославил Сына Своего Иисуса.(Деян.3:13)

Words "прародители" and "праотцы" are used for very far ancestors, from Adam and Eve to those who lived, say, a few centuries ago. They can be real or legendary, but anyway, it is unlikely that anyone among currently alive knew them personally. So, these terms are not appropriate for grandparents, who are separated from you by only 2 generations and are probably still alive, or died not so long time ago.

"Предки" is a general word for ancestors. It fits a bit better than "праотцы" or "прародители", but still looks awkward, if you mean your Grandma and Grandpa.

I agree with Quassnoi, that for your example the best variant is "деды". This word is widely used nowadays, for example, for participants of the World War II (as collective word for both men and women). It sounds paternalistic, yes, but I don't think it can really insult any women. Use it with stress on Е only, not Ы! With stress on Ы, it sounds like a part of militaristic slang, and is unacceptable in common and, furthermore, official use.


I can use "Деды". With stress on last Ы

  • good for "наши/мои деды", but not "их/твои/его деды" - sounds wired since "дед" is not so polite and neutral. but "их отцы и деды" - sounds well again, since отцы is polite an neutral. Dec 19, 2018 at 0:05

Предки is not appropriate at all. It means ancestors. Предки is only used as a teenager slang for родители, trying to emphasize how far the youngsters are from them by culture. Деды (forefathers) is suitable for common language, but has a somewhat paternalistic and militaristic (дед is also used for armed forces bully) scent. Старики is not recommended. It has a strong pathetic bias. It is used primarily among relatives. The answer is прародители, which is only suitable for scientific genre, and sometimes for debates. Sounds awkward in common speech, as My second-degree parents will for sure.

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