In Esperanto, the male pet name suffix, attached to a shortened form of the stem, is ‘ĉj’. Therefore, since ‘grandfather’ in Esperanto is ‘avo’, it seems like ‘grandpa’ ought to be ‘avĉjo’, but Wells gives merely ‘avo’ for ‘grandpa’, and Benson doesn’t include ‘grandpa’ at all. However, ReVo gives ‘avĉjo’, and Vikivortaro seems to agree, giving ‘avĉo’, which presumably is a typo for ‘avĉjo’. (Sonja does not have an entry for ‘grandpa’.) So, my take is that ‘grandpa’ in Esperanto is ‘avĉjo’, and that Benson and Wells simply slipped up on this entry, and Vikivortaro committed a typo on this entry. Do you agree?

Similarly for ‘grandma’: In Esperanto, the female pet name suffix, attached to a shortened form of the stem, is ‘nj’. Therefore, since ‘grandmother’ in Esperanto is ‘avino’, it seems like ‘grandma’ ought to be ‘avnjo’, but Wells gives merely ‘avino’ for ‘grandma’, and Benson doesn’t include ‘grandma’ at all. ReVo, which includes an entry for ‘grandpa’, does not have an entry for ‘grandma’, nor does Sonja have an entry for ‘grandma’. Vikivortaro gives ‘avinjo’ for ‘grandma’, but it seems to me that the ‘pet’ form should be shorter than the regular form. So, my take is that ‘grandma’ in Esperanto is ‘avnjo’, and that Benson, Wells, ReVo and Vikivortaro all slipped up on this entry. Do you agree?

4 Answers 4


Avĉo indeed is a typo; avinjo is the correct form for grandma. See http://vortaro.net/#avinjo.

  • 1
    Both avĉjo and avinjo are common forms, but they are not "correct", see my response below. Apr 12, 2017 at 7:45

Nu, what does google say?

  • avinjo scores ~8700 hits
  • avĉjo scores ~3500 hits
  • avetoZ scores ~2250 hits
  • avinetoZ scores ~1950 hits
  • avnjo scores between 400 and 500 hits

All these words do exist and are firmly established in the language. Avinjo and avĉjo are the most common forms, even if they are against both the Fundamento and Zamenhof’s expressed opinion, as Cyril says in his answer. I agree with him that the Akademio should officially declare that these forms are “tolerated.”

  • 1
    Considering the huge amount of bad Esperanto on the Internet I would never leave figures from Google unchecked or uncommented. A better, though not impeccable source is the controlled corpus at tekstaro.com. Apr 12, 2017 at 11:59


The normal (in the sense of according to the norm) forms for "grandma" and "grandpa" are avineto and aveto. The forms avinjo and avĉjo are used quite often, but nevertheless against the Fundamento and should be avoided.


According to the Fundamento (Ekzercaro, §38, Universala Vortaro), the suffixes -ĉj- and -nj- are used only with personal names:

affectionate diminutive of masculine names; e.g. Johan’ John - Jo’ĉj’ Johnnie

There is also an explicit Lingva Respondo by Zamenhof (LR 15, letter to Th. Thorsteinsson (1906-03-08), see Originala Verkaro, p. 523):

Por karesaj formoj oni povas uzi „ĉj (nj)“ kaj ankaŭ „et“ (Patreto, patrineto, paĉjo, panjo). La „ĉj“ kaj „nj“ estas uzataj nur en nomoj kaj en „patro“ kaj „patrino“; en aliaj okazoj oni karesas per „et“

For this reason, the forms Paĉjo and Panjo can be seen as exceptions to the norm, which are tolerable, as they were already existing before the Fundamento became the untouchable norm in 1905 (which of course was not intended to change the language as it was in this time, but to protect it partially from further changes).

The reason why Paĉjo and Panjo are OK, but avĉjo and avinjo (and onjo and fraĉjo etc.) are not, may have a connection that in the traditional model of a family father and mother are unique, while there are usually more than one grandfather, uncle, sister, cousin etc. For this reason Paĉjo and Panjo function more like proper names (in fact they take the article much less often than patro and patrino), hence I also write them with capital first letter.


This situation is highly unfortunate, and as the usage of avĉjo and avinjo (and a few other forms) shows, the system does not work. For this reason it should be a priority for the Akademio de Esperanto to declare such forms (from kinship terms) officially tolerated.

  • 2
    Why should things that are against "La Fundamento" be avioded? I call my sister "Franjo" and that feels natural to me. I use it like a proper name, never with an article or possesive pronoun attached. Which I believe, you mentioned considering "Panjo" and "Pacxjo". "Fratineto" wouldn't work that way, in my opinion. Apr 12, 2017 at 15:46
  • I don't want to get into an argument (as this is undesirable here AFAIK), but of course the Fundamento defines to a great extent what Esperanto is, it is the compensation for the lack of (relevant) native speakers. Speaking Esperanto while ignoring the Fundamento would be like e.g. speaking Swedish as a foreign language and ignoring how native speakers speak it. You can do it, you will probably be understandable, but no one would dare to say "Oh, this is just as good as natives' Swedish". Apr 12, 2017 at 20:50

The affectionate suffixes -ĉj- and -nj- work in a special way, as they are attached only to the first couple of letters (1–6) of a word. Interpreting this definition (given in the “Fundamento”) literally gives several ways of forming the affectionate form, but the result always has to be easily pronounceable and many forms have since become standard.

Theoretically there are two possible ways of making an affectionate form of the word av·o, but in practice only av·ĉj·o is used. Theoretically there are several ways to attach the -nj- suffix to the word av·in·o, but in practice only av·i·nj·o is used.

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