Familial terms

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Prerequisites for this Turkish Vocabulary Lesson

Noun possession

benim, senin, onun

Everyone is a part of the family

One thing I love about Turkey is the culture of including everyone into part of the family. Strangers on the street call me “abi” (older brother) and I address others with similar familial terms. When addressing friends, acquaintances, and even strangers, the most common titles are terms for immediate family members: “abi” (older brother), “abla” (older sister) and “kardeş” (younger sibling). To address older women, the term “teyze” (maternal aunt) is often used. For older men, “amca” (paternal uncle) and “dayı” (maternal uncle) are both common terms. The terms for mother (“anne” or “ana”) and father (“baba”) can also be used for addressing older people, but this is less common.

What can make this difficult, however, is distinguishing between the times when people are talking about real family and when they are just talking about a friend. Not to mention all the different names for complicated family relations that we don’t have in English can be hard to keep straight. This article is here to help you with this. Below is a list of familial terms, what the standard meaning of the word is and when it can be applied to other people as well.

Immediate family

In the table below, you will see a list of the common words for the immediate family.

In addition to the basic terms, the term “üvey” can be added before an immediate family relation in order to indicate step relations. For example, the term for stepdad is “üvey baba.” This can also denote adoption without any blood relation.

In Turkish, people usually refer to their spouse using the generic term, “eş” (spouse) instead of the specific words, “koca” (husband) and “karı” (wife). Like many of the other familial terms, “eş” is almost always used with a possessive ending: “eşim” (my spouse).

Turkish English Less common terms
Spouse Karı (wife), koca (husband), zevce (old term for wife)
Nişanlı Fiancé (or fiancée) Yavuklu (uncommon term)
Anne Mother Ana, anneciğim, valide
Baba Father Babacığım, buba (Aegean), peder, ata
Anne baba Parents Ebeveyn
Abi Older brother (or any man) Abiciğim, ağabey, ağa
Abla Older sister (or any woman) Ablacığım
Kardeş Younger sibling (or any person the same age or younger) Kardeşçiğim, gardaş
Erkek kardeş Younger brother Birader, bilader
Kızkardeş Younger sister Bacı (sister or servant), kız birader
Kız Daughter (literally, “girl”) Gız
Oğul Son Oğlan (used when discussing a child’s gender)
Çocuk Child Evlat

Extended family

In Turkish, there are a lot of terms for specific members of the extended family. This system of kinship terms is called the “descriptive system” or the Sudanese kinship system. The Turkish language does not have a category for “aunts” or “uncles,” but instead specific terms for maternal aunt, paternal aunt, etc. Likewise, the category of “cousin” (“kuzen,” borrowed from English) is a relatively new development in the Turkish language. It is common for people to use the more specific cousin terms, such as “amca oğlu” (paternal uncle’s son), “hala kızı” (paternal aunt’s daughter), etc.

As with the immediate family terms, the extended family terms also get used as a friendly way of addressing people you aren’t related to. The most common of these are “amca” (father’s brother), “dayı” (mother’s brother) and “teyze” (mother’s sister). “Nine” (grandmother) and “dede” (grandfather) are also sometimes used, but most people prefer to use the aunt or uncle terms in order to avoid implying that someone is old. In fact, many people avoid even these terms and call old men and women simply “abi” (older brother) or “abla” (older sister) even if they are the age of their parents.

Extended family chart

Extended family chart

Grandparents and Great Grandparents

Some Turkish speakers have different terms for their paternal grandfather (büyük baba) and maternal grandfather (dede), while others use these terms interchangeably. Dede is the more common term for grandfather.

Turkish English Less common terms
Nine Grandmother (or elderly woman) Nene, büyükanne, büyükana
Dede Grandfather (or elderly man or ancestor) Büyükbaba, büyük peder
Büyük dede Great grandfather Ata
Büyük nine Great grandmother
Anneanne Mother’s mother Annanne
Babaanne Father’s mother Babanne

Aunts and Uncles

Turkish English Less common terms
Dayı Mother’s brother (or any older man) Dayıcığım
Teyze Mother’s sister (or any older woman) Teyzeciğim
Amca Father’s brother (or any older man) Amcacığım, emmi
Hala Father’s sister Halacığım, bibi


Turkish English Less common terms
Kuzen Cousin Böle
Kuzin Female cousin (older term)
Amca oğlu Paternal uncle’s son Emmi oğlu
Amca kızı Paternal uncle’s daughter
Hala oğlu Paternal aunt’s son
Hala kızı Paternal aunt’s daughter
Dayı oğlu Maternal uncle’s son
Dayı kızı Maternal uncle’s daughter
Teyze oğlu Maternal aunt’s son
Teyze kızı Maternal aunt’s daughter

Other extended family terms

Turkish English Less common terms
Yeğen Niece or nephew
Torun Grandchild
Torunun oğlu Great grandson
Torunun kızı Great granddaughter

Family by marriage


Here are the different terms for sister-in-law in Turkish. Note that the term “yenge” (brother’s or uncle’s wife or fiancée) can also be used to refer to the wife or fiancée of any man. However, be careful how you use this term because it can easily be accidentally used to suggest that a relationship exists where one does not, which can be offensive.

Term English Other terms
Görümce Husband’s sister
Baldız Wife’s sister
Yenge Brother’s or uncle’s wife or fiancée (either side) or more generally the wife of a blood relative. This can also be used to refer to a friend’s wife or fiancée.
Elti Husband’s brother’s wife
Kaynının eşi Wife’s brother’s wife Kayınbiraderinin eşi, yenge


Here are the different terms for brother-in-law in Turkish. Note that unlike with sisters-in-law, the brother of a person’s husband is not distinguished with a different term from the brother of a person’s wife.

Term English Other terms
Kayınbirader Spouse’s brother Kayınbilader, kayınço, kayın
Enişte Sister’s or aunt’s husband (either side), or more generally the husband of a blood relative
Bacanak Wife’s sister’s husband Baco
Görümcenin eşi Husband’s sister’s husband Enişte

Other in-laws

Term English Other terms
Kayınpeder Spouse’s father Kayınbaba, kayınata
Kayınvalide Spouse’s mother Kayınana, kaynana
Dünür Child’s spouse’s parents, or more generally referring to a relative’s in-laws
Gelin Daughter in law (or bride)
Damat Son in law (or groom) Güvey, iç güvey (term for man who lives in wife’s parent’s house)

Chart with in-laws (for men)

Extended chart with in-laws for men

Chart with in-laws (for women)

Extended chart with in-laws for women

The ‑çığım ending for showing affection

Often, the ending ‑çığım/çiğim/çuğum/çüğüm or ‑cığım/ciğim/cuğum/cüğüm is added to a family term or a person’s name. This ending combines the diminutive ‑çık ending with the first person possession ending ‑ım. When someone uses a ‑çığım form, it makes the statement personal. People use it to show affection to the person they are talking to. It can be added to any family term, but the least common one of these is the kardeşçiğim term, perhaps because it doesn’t roll off the tongue. Also, ‑çığım be used when addressing strangers, especially when shop owners and bazaar workers are being polite to customers.

Test your knowledge of Turkish family terms

If all of these familial terms haven’t scattered your brains enough yet, see if you can pass the test by solving these 5 logic questions involving Turkish relational terms:

    Akrabalık İlişkileriyle İlgili Beyninizi Yakacak 5 Mantık Sorusu

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