English: Mother/mom, Russian: mama, Chinese: ma, Nepalese: (m)ama. Is there a language that doesn't have some sort of "ma" for mother?

To make it clear. I am not asking if there is a language that has word for mom that doesn't sound like mom. In English you can say female parent. I am asking if there is a language that doesn't have any form of mom at all for mother. Looking for an answer from a native speaker, not just someone using Google Translate and discovering that the most common way to say mom is say "haha".

Update: this is not a duplicate. That question asks "why are these words similar" (answer : "because..."). My question asks "which languages have the least similar word" (answer : "Japanese", though "haha" is still pretty close). Even deda follows the same pattern. Some sort of Pferdeleistung would be a good hit, but this is just horsepower, not mom.

  • 1
    My answer to this question might be relevant Commented Oct 27, 2018 at 22:17
  • @jknappen Not a duplicate. I ask "what are the outliers?" not "why similar?"
    – Stepan
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 13:12
  • That's a plain dictionary lookup. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mother#Etymology_1 Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 13:18
  • Georgian deda. In contrast, mama is "father".
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 19:14
  • @jknappen that is NOT a plain lookup because I ask about languages other than English.
    – Stepan
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


There are quite a few examples: Japanese haha, Yoruba iya, Cebuano inahan, Uzbeck ona, Hmong niam, Turkish anne, Finnish äiti, Sundanese indung, Somali hooyo, North Saami eadni. What is not clear in all cases is whether there is also an "informal" endearative word that children use to talk to their mothers. I suspect there isn't in the case of Somali and Saami, but even then infants may well utter mama without that being a word of the language.

  • 1
    Don't forget Aztec: nantli or Greenlandic: anaana Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 21:44
  • @Wilson anaana - I would argue this is pretty close. Compare to apple vs ping guo.
    – Stepan
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:03
  • "Cebuano inahan" - are other ways to say "mom" even more different, or this is just the first hit in a dictionary? After all, English dictionary gives mother, but "mom" still exists.
    – Stepan
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:06
  • I’m not entirely sure about Saami, but eadni is a borrowing from Baltic (like Finnish äiti). The inherited word in Finnish is emo, which is closer to the ‘mama’ form, but that’s old-fashioned rather than endearative in modern Finnish, and I don’t know if perhaps it’s been completely lost in Saami. Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 22:19

In Riffian, the singular for mother exists (imma = mother), but not the plural. It is the same for father (baba = father).

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