75 Friends and Family


Croatian has many words for family members. For instance, where English has only uncle, Croatian has three words: stric, tetak (tetk-) and ujak! I will introduce only main family members and relatives here. First, some terms for friends and neighbors; each term has a male and a female version:

male female
neighbor susjed ® susjeda ®
godfather/godmother kum kuma
acquaintance poznanik poznanica
boss šef šefica
coworker kolega kolegica ®

The word kolega is similar to tata: the word ends on -a, changes like any other word on -a, but has masculine gender!

For women, you must use female versions of such nouns. For example:

Ivan je tvoj susjed. Ivan is your neighbor.

Ana je moja susjeda. Ana is my neighbor.

Terms kum and kuma stand for family friends who are traditionally witnesses at marriage, child baptism, etc.

Now, to family relations. Terms in square brackets [] are formal terms, not used among family members, only when you are talking to someone outside family, in writing, etc. Basic terms for parents and grandparents are:

mama [majka] Mom/mother
tata [otac (oc-)] Dad/father
baka Grandma/grandmother
deda [djed] Grandpa/grandfather

In some regions, there are other words for relatives (see below).

Here are terms for father’s and mother’s sisters and brothers (various kinds of aunts and uncles) and their spouses:

teta mother’s or father’s sister
  tetak (tetk-) husband of teta ®
stric father’s brother ®
  strina wife of stric
ujak mother’s brother ®
  ujna wife of ujak

Colloquially, teta has more meanings: children will call any older, non-related woman teta, e.g. their kindergarten teacher.

If you have children (and possibly grandchildren), they are called:

sin son unuk grandson
kći f
    daughter unuka granddaughter

For example (the second sentence is less precise in English!):

Ana je Goranova mama. Ana is Goran’s Mom.

Čekamo Ivanovog strica. We’re waiting for Ivan’s uncle.

The noun kći f daughter is a special noun, having the following weird forms:

kći / kćer kćer kćeri

The form kćer in N is not standard, but is frequently used in colloquial communication ®. All other forms are derived from kćer- and follow the pattern for feminine nouns not ending in a.

In colloquial communication, you will hear ćer, ći and in some regions the alternative, word kćerka (non-standard, but completely regular) prevails.®

There’s a matching term for mother, which is today archaic in most regions, except on the coast: mati (mater-), which like kći, has A just mater, a form that’s often used for N as well. (As you can see, older words often show how Croatian, English and many other languages are related.)

As with other terms related to people which have two forms, masculine plural is considered generic, so if you talk about grandchildren, you should use unuci (plural of unuk, observe the consonant shift, as expected in masculine plural), while unuke (plural of unuka) means grandaughters.

However, for sons and daughters there’s a separate word – djeca – so sinovi is specific, meaning sons. Don’t forget the word djeca is grammatically special in some ways.

Finally, no word is generic for brothers and sisters, so the only option is to use a phrase braća i sestre, literally the same as in English.

If you want to talk about great-grandfather or great-granddaughter, and so on, add pra- to the front of words above (e.g. pradjed grandfather, praunuka granddaughter, etc.).

If you are married, there are names for your husband or wife and her or his parents:

žena [supruga] wife
  punica her mother ®tast / punac (punc-) her father
muž [suprug] husband
  svekrva his mothersvekar (svekr-) his father

Terms suprug and supruga are very formal, mostly used in official documents. Croatian uses the same word (žena) for both woman and wife in virtually all circumstances.

If your children are married, their spouses are as follows:

zet daughter’s husband
snaha son’s wife ®

(There are no established terms for same-sex couples yet.)

There are couple of often used additional terms for various relatives:

nećak brother’s or sister’s son (nephew)
nećakinja brother’s or sister’s daugher (niece)
bratić male cousin
sestrična female cousin
šogor sister’s husband / brother of the spouse (brother-in-law)
šogorica brother’s wife / sister of the spouse (sister-in-law)

Besides these terms, there are other, archaic terms used in some regions, which are much more precise. They are less frequent nowadays in Croatia, they are used only in some regions.

Additionally, there are two group and two generic terms:

obitelj f (close) family
rodbina wider family, all relatives
rođak male relative of any kind
rođakinja female relative of any kind

Take care that obitelj is a feminine noun ending in a consonant. For instance:

Antina obitelj živi u Splitu. Ante’s family lives in Split.

Again, masc. plural rođaci can be used for generic relatives.

Finally, possessive adjectives in plural are often used in speech to express someone’s family. For example:

Razgovaraj sa svojima. (colloq.) Talk to your family. (lit. ‘with yours’)

Moji dolaze sutra. (colloq.) My family is coming tomorrow. (lit. ‘Mine are coming’)

Sretan put tebi i tvojima. (colloq.) Happy journey to you and your family. (lit. ‘to yours’)

Ručat ću s mojima. (colloq.) I’ll have a lunch with my family. (lit. ‘with mine’)

Recall that the reflexive possessive adjectives are optional in speech in the 1st person, and ordinary possessive moj is often used instead, as in the last sentence; of course, sa svojima is also possible. (Also, recall that adjectives, when used as nouns, get an additional -a in DLI-pl.)

Colloquially, adjectives stari and stara are used for Dad and Mom; the adjective stari (in plural) is sometimes used for ancestors, people who lived in the past.

There’s a lot of regional variations in terms for family members, especially males. These are just some alternative terms (with region in brackets):

ćaća m Dad (coast, except Dubrovnik)
barba m any uncle (coast, except Dubrovnik)
dundo (dund-) m any uncle (Dubrovnik)
čiko (A -u) m any uncle (Slavonia)
nono (non-) m Grandpa (coast)
nona Grandma (coast)
familija family (many regions)

In many regions – including Zagreb – there’s no distinction between three unclesstric, tetak (tetk-) and ujak – and the local term for uncle is frequently used by children to address any non-related adult male.


® Instead of susjed and susjeda, words komšija m and komšinica prevail in Serbia and Bosnia, both are also heard in Slavonia, a region of Croatia.

Instead of kolegica, koleginica is used in Serbia and parts of Bosnia.

Instead of tetak (tetk-), the word teča m is used in Serbia (but not in Bosnia).

In Bosnia, the word daidža m is frequently used for mother’s brother, while amidža m is father’s brother.

Instead of punica, the word tašta is used in Serbia and most of Bosnia.

Forms kćer and kćerka are accepted as standard in Bosnia and Serbia. In addition to snaha, forms snaja and snajka are frequent in Serbia, Bosnia, and some parts of Croatia. Instead of snaha, the word nevista is used in Split and the surrounding area.

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5 Easy Croatian: 75 Friends and Family N A  DL  G 24 I V Croatian has many words for family members. For instance, where English has only uncle , Croatian has three ...

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