Burmese kinship

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The Burmese kinship system is a fairly complex system used to define family in the Burmese language. [1] In the Burmese kinship system: [2]



Many of the kinship terms used in Burmese today are extant or derived from Old Burmese. [3] These include the terms used to reference siblings and in-laws. [3]

Grades of kinship

The Burmese kinship system identifies and recognizes six generations of direct ancestors, excluding the ego: [4]

  1. Be (ဘဲ) - great-grandfather's great-grandfather (6 generations removed)
  2. Bin (ဘင်) - great-grandfather's grandfather (5 generations removed)
  3. Bi (ဘီ) - great-grandfather's father (4 generations removed)
  4. Bay (ဘေး) - great-grandfather (3 generations removed)
  5. Pho (ဘိုး) - grandfather (2 generations removed)
  6. Phay (ဖေ) - father (1 generation removed)

The Burmese kinship system identifies seven generations of direct descendants, excluding the ego: [4]

  1. Tha (သား) - (1 generation removed)
  2. Myi (မြေး) - (2 generations removed)
  3. Myit (မြစ်) - (3 generations removed)
  4. Ti (တီ) - (4 generations removed)
  5. Tut (တွတ်) or Hmyaw (မျှော့) - (5 generations removed)
  6. Kyut (ကျွတ်) - (6 generations removed)
  7. Hset (ဆက်) - (7 generations removed)

Extended family and terminology

Kinship terms differ depending on the degree of formality, courtesy or intimacy. Also, there are regional differences in the terms used.

Common suffixes

Burmese also possesses kin numeratives (in the form of suffixes):


The Burmese kinship system also recognizes various relationships between family members that are not found in English, including: [4]

Members of the nuclear family

RelationTermForm of addressEnglish equivalentNotes
pha khin
အဖေa phay
ဖေဖေphay phay
mi khin
အမေa may
မေမေmay may
Elder brother
(male ego)
Elder brother
(female ego)
Younger brother
(male ego)
Younger brother
(female ego)
Older sister
Younger sister
(male ego)
hna ma
Younger sister
(female ego)
nyi ma
HusbandInformal: ယောက်ျား (yaukkya). Formal: ခင်ပွန်း (khinbun).
WifeInformal: မိန်းမ (meinma). Formal: ဇနီး (zani).

Members of the extended family

Immediate lineage
RelationTermForm of addressEnglish equivalentNotes
Parent's fatherဖိုး
Parent's motherဖွား
Father's elder brotherဘကြီး
ba gyi
Father's younger brotherဘလေး
ba lay
UncleThe youngest uncle may be called ဘထွေး (ba dway).
Father's elder sisterအရီးကြီး
ayi gyi
Father's younger sisterအရီးလေး
ayi lay
AuntThe youngest aunt may be called ထွေးလေး (dway lay).
Mother's elder brotherဦးကြီး
u gyi
Uncleဝရီး (wayi) is now obsolete.
Mother's younger brotherဦးလေး
u lay
Mother's elder sisterဒေါ်ကြီး
daw gyi
AuntAlso ကြီးတော် (kyidaw).
Mother's younger sisterဒေါ်လေး
daw lay
AuntThe youngest aunt may be called ထွေးလေး (dway lay).
First cousinမောင်နှမ တဝမ်းကွဲ
maung hnama ta wun gwe
First cousinLit. "siblings one womb removed"
Nephews and nieces
RelationTermForm of addressEnglish equivalentNotes
Sibling's sonတူ
Sibling's daughterတူမ
RelationTermForm of addressEnglish equivalentNotes
Brother's wife
(female ego)
Husband's sister
Elder brother's wife
(male ego)
Wife's elder sister
Younger brother's wife
(male ego)
Wife's younger sister
Sister's husband
Husband's younger brother
Wife's brother
Elder sister's husband
(female ego)
Husband's elder brother
Younger sister's husband
(female ego)
Husband's younger brother
Son's wifeချွေးမ
Daughter's husbandသမက်
Spouse's fatherယောက္ခထီး
Spouse's motherယောက္ခမ

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