Viet Family Extended Edition 201


I swear this is the last post on family! 99.99% percent of my readers should have 100.000% of all family vocabulary by now. The remaining 0.01% has to be doing genealogy research to need to know more family terms.

If you need to search for just 1 word and don’t want to read through everything, press Ctrl + F on PC (or Apple + F on Mac), it should bring up the Search box in your Internet browser, type in the word, and it should be there. If I didn’t cover it, there is always the online Viet dictionary

The oldest child: con cả, con trưởng (in the North), or anh Hai / chị Hai (in the South)

The youngest child: con út

The middle kids: con thứ


Biological family: add đẻ or ruột

Biological parents: bố mẹ đẻ, cha mẹ ruột, etc.

Biological siblings: anh ruột (older brothers), chị ruột (older sister), em ruột (younger siblings), etc.


Godfather: cha đỡ đầu

Godmother: mẹ đỡ đầu

Godchild: con đỡ đầu


Adopted family member: add the word nuôi.
Adopted children: con nuôi
Adopted parents: bố mẹ nuôi, cha mẹ nuôi, etc.

Stepfather: cha dượng

Stepmother: mẹ kế (if it’s Cinderella’s evil stepmother, it’s dì ghẻ :))

Children of someone from that person’s previous marriage: con riêng (con means children, riêng means private). Example: con riêng của cô Hà means Ms. Hà’s children from her previous marriage.

Children out of wedlock: con ngoài giá thú (which has a derogatory meaning in Vietnam since sex before marriage and such are condemned, yes, condemned, not just frowned upon)

Step brothers & sisters, from the same father: anh, chị, em + cùng cha khác mẹ (same dad, different mom)

Step brothers & sisters, from the same mother: anh, chị, em + cùng mẹ khác cha (same mom, different dad)

(Just in case) Step brothers & sisters, no blood relationship: use the usual anh, chị, em and you’ll have to explain that they’re not blood-related (không có họ với nhau)


Side note: Family and marriage in Vietnam are similar to those in Southeast Asia (China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan). It is a big deal since the majority of people marry once and live with that partner for life, for better or for worse (and since it’s a one-in-a-lifetime event, people spend a lot of money on weddings, banquets, receptions, etc). Divorce is not common. Divorcees and their children face judgment from other people and society in general. Parents often stay married for their children and/or to save face even though the union is unhappy… and I feel pretty pessimistic after living in America and getting bombarded by the American media and their through-the-roof divorce rate.


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