Abuela – Meaning, Origin and Usage

She enjoys sitting in her rocking chair, can cook the most amazing dinners, and never misses with her deadly chancla.

“Abuela” is the term that describes this type of particular woman within Spanish and Latinx culture.

In this post, we will be going over the definition, origin, and uses of the word “Abuela”. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The term “Abuela” is the Spanish word for “Grandmother”. Used in Latinx and Spanish-speaking communities, “Abuela” is a common word that means exactly as you might think; one’s amazing grandma!

While the exact meaning of Abuela is grandmother, it can also be used to represent an older woman who has a close relationship resembling that of a grandmother. For example, an older aunt or even a neighboring elderly woman.

There isn’t much to be said about the meaning of “Abuela”. Usable in nearly every context you may think of, it is often one of endearment and respect for grandmothers.

Sometimes, it can also be used to speak of a really tough older woman, blood-relative or not, that is to be lovingly feared.

Regardless, “Abuela” in Latinx cultures is used in a respectable and loving manner because family is incredibly important.

Unless you understand the context, you can safely assume that it will refer to one’s grandmother in a kind way.

Example Usage

“I’ll be visiting my Abuela this Christmas! I’m excited to see her! ”

“My Abuela lives in Mexico City, so I don’t see her very often”.

“Never make Abuela angry. She is better than a trained sniper with her chancla”.

“Abuela loves to watch her telenovelas in the evening”.

“Your Abuela makes the best desserts!”


The exact origin of “Abuela” is not really possible to pinpoint since it is a technically a Spanish word. The word has existed almost since the creation of the Spanish language.

It is used is both modern Spanish conversation and was used heavily in vintage Spanish conversation.

However, around the mid-2010s, “Abuela” started to become slightly popular as a word for a tough, older woman. Given how languages evolve over time, “Abuela” might pick up another meaning in the future.

There have been limited reports of “Abuela” also being used as a term to describe a mean, older woman. Context is very important in this case, but is fairly uncommon.

Phrases Similar to Abuela

  • Hermana – Spanish for “Sister”.
    • This is my hermana, Mariana. She is amazing at football.
  • Chica – Spanish for “Girl”.
    • Eh! Way to go, chica!
  • Chancla – Spanish for “Flip-Flop/Sandals” or “A woman’s weapon of choice”.
    • Madre somehow hit me with her chancla from the kitchen!

Phrases opposite to Abuela

  • Abuelo – Spanish for “Grandfather”.
    • Abuelo secretly got me some candy after papa said no.
  • Chico – Spanish for “Boy”.
    • Chico! Stay out of trouble!
  • Senior – Spanish for “Mister” or “Sir”.
    • Excuse me, senior. You dropped your wallet.

What is The Correct Saying?

  • Abuela: ah – bweh – la

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Abuela

Like many words in Spanish, “Abuela” ends with an “ah” sound which is used for female-specific words like “chica” or “senorita”.

Similar to other languages, Spanish has gender-specific rules that must be followed in order to fully make use of and understand the language.

Words that end with “oh” are more often used for males, with some exceptions like “padre” for “dad”.

Be sure to know the difference so you don’t offend anyone!

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Abuela

  • My Abuela makes the best tamales in the whole city.
  • I can’t wait to visit my Abuela for the holiday weekend, she has been sick and needs some cheer.
  • If you are ever in a tight spot, you should probably go talk to your Abuela for some good life advice.
  • Whenever my parents fight my Abuela will start lighting candles for peace.

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