What is one’s mother-in-law’s mother-in-law called?

  • 4
    English is not particularly rich in kinship terms. I'd call her Edith. – Spehro Pefhany Jun 21 '14 at 19:16
  • 2
    Mother-in-mother-in-law-in-law. – John Lawler Jun 21 '14 at 19:19
  • @JohnLawler I know redundancy reinforces, but I almost think you have one too many in instances infixed in there. Plus one wonders just what sort of fixture mother-in-law is: is she an infix or a circumfix? I guess she’s mesoclitic, but be sure never to skimp on that word’s last syllable. – tchrist Jun 21 '14 at 20:53
  • 3
    One must always get one's innings in. The idea of such a kinship term (which can be described in technical terms but has zero usage in practice) is simply amusing. – John Lawler Jun 21 '14 at 20:55
  • 3
    Your mother-in-law-squared of course! – WS2 Jun 21 '14 at 22:31

Grandmother-in-law has been accurately suggested (I linked Merriam-Webster). If you want to be specific about which grandmother-in-law, you could say "my father-in-law's mother".

You can add "-in-law" to any term of kinship to denote affinity as opposed to blood relationship.


There's no single word for this in English.

Your mother-in-law is the mother of your spouse. The mother-in-law of the mother of your spouse is the mother of your spouse's father and so is your spouse's paternal grandmother.

You can call this person your 'grandmother-in-law' or your spouse's grandmother, but it is not widely understood to mean that.

  • There is an unexamined assumption here that your spouse's parents have not divorced and separately remarried. – Brian Donovan Jun 21 '14 at 19:34
  • Thanks for putting it clearly. One’s spouse’s grandmother seems clear enough. – tchrist Jun 21 '14 at 20:57
  • @BrianDonovan: That's complicating matters. What is usually sought after is the term for the simplest situation and this is already complicated enough. As there isn't a single word for this one, do you think there would be for the more complicated situations? – Mitch Jun 21 '14 at 21:21
  • 1
    No, complicated is when your in-laws reign in Thebes. ;-) – Brian Donovan Jun 21 '14 at 21:42

You could call her your grandmother-in-law because, assuming the usual circumstances, she would be your spouse's grandmother.

  • But of course she could be your step- grandmother-in-law, if your mother-in-law remarried. – Scott Jun 21 '14 at 20:11

Grandmother-in-law. As far as I know there is no widespread practice that distinguishes how many 'levels' of in-laws separate you from someone.

  • True, but in this case, it is only one level. Your spouse's father's mother. – Daniel Jun 21 '14 at 19:06

Given my relationship with my mother-in-law, and her relationship with her mother-in-law, I'd have to say a staunch ally in my struggles. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. =)

  • 1
    Amusing, but probably better suited as a comment rather than an "answer'. – Lynn Jun 22 '14 at 1:26
  • Insufficient permission. =( I can only comment on my own answers. – Sidney Jun 22 '14 at 2:10

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