“Stepgrandfather” doesn’t appear to be an official word (at least it’s not in any of my dictionaries), but it’s what I am as of yesterday afternoon, and a very proud one too. You can see the little fellow here; it was a new and wonderful experience to hold something that small and fresh and alive in my arms and know that it would grow up to be a quirky individual like the rest of us. (And born on the first of May—what good fortune!) I look forward to getting to know him.

There are a few hundred Google hits for “stepgrandfather”; my favorite is from this Arkansan parody of Midnight’s Children:

On the wedding day my stepgrandfather Oxford Davis gave my stepfather a wad of chewing tobacco, a baseball bat autographed by members of the Arkansas Reds, a pair of jumper cables, a thirty-dollar Bible, an album entitled Johnny Cash: The Cheatin’ Songs (a native son of Kingsland, 50 miles to the south, whom my stepgrandfather worked alongside with in the fields as a young man and never tired of endlessly repeating his stories about him and Johnny in their younger days, most of which started with: “I tell you, one night me and Johnny got so drunk…”. My stepgrandfather still keeps in his safebox the guitar pick that Johnny poked a man’s eye out with in a barfight, “just to watch him bleed”, in Fordyce, 1952.

I’ll strive to be that cool a stepgrandpa, though minus the chewing tobacco.
It occurs to me, by the way, that languages can be divided into those that have convenient prefixes (like English step-, German Stief-, and French beau-) with which new forms like “stepgrandfather” can be constructed and those that don’t. Russian, for instance, has otchim ‘stepfather’ and machekha ‘stepmother’ (stress on the first syllable in both); those are great words, but you tell me how I’m supposed to construct one on that model! (The primary words are otets ‘father’ and mat’ ‘mother.’)


  1. A crafty surfer can follow the baby picture to a photograph of language hat himself, but without any hat.

  2. Wow, congratulations!

  3. so CUTE! If you had a photo of Kerry kissing that baby, he’d win the election.
    So is songdog er, Hat Jr.?

  4. Congratulations and enjoy! Hat-step-grand-junior has an excellent hat. And there are pics of Hat in a hat too….

  5. aldiboronti says

    Many congratulations, lh! The little chap wears his hat with style. I trust that it will be the first of many, whether he grows up to be law hat, politics hat, medicine hat, etc. (Isn’t there a town called the latter, I wonder where that one came from?).

  6. Medicine Hat is up by Moose Jaw.

  7. Songdog is the son of Mrs. Hat; I regret to say that he himself does not wear hats on a regular basis, but I hope to inculcate a fondness for them into the new addition to the family, in part by repeating what my own beloved Daddy Joe (my dad’s father) used to tell me: “This is a genu-wine Panama from Ecuador, made from the leaves of the jipijapa tree.” A magic formula to a kid! And I thank you all for the good wishes.

  8. Tatyana says

    He looks terrific and very well-behaved. Happy birthday!
    There is no “step” construction in Russian, I’m afraid. May be because “ded” is “ded”, no matter how many steps away!

  9. He’s adorable. And, as others have noted, very well hatted. 😉

  10. Congratulations!
    To you as grandfather and to the parents!

  11. Adding my voice to the chorus, Congratulations!

  12. Congrats from the Manse! My THIRD stepgrandaughter Rosie was born May day 2002. Stepgrandparenting simply adds an extra level of opportunity for spoiling, indulgence & the purchasing of birthday dictionaries…

  13. I’m definitely looking forward to spoiling, indulgence, &c (and additional stepgrandkids!).

  14. A beautiful baby and a lovely family — congratulations to all!

  15. Hey congratulations!

  16. Congratulations!

  17. Congratulations!

  18. gluepot says

    Congratulations, LH. And thanks for posting the picture of the beautiful baby.
    I know just how you feel as a stepgrandfather. I have four of them—all boys.

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