Aunty or Auntie-Which One is Correct?

Aunty and auntie are common terms used to address or refer to a close female relative or older woman. But which one is correct? There are some key differences between the two in terms of origins, usage, and regional variants that are helpful to understand.

Origins and Meanings

  • Aunty – Derived from “aunt” with the added “y” to indicate affection. Used to address an aunt, any close family friend, or older woman. Originated in the UK and is prevalent in British English.
  • Auntie – A variant of aunty that emerged more recently, likely originating in the US. Mostly used in the US and Canada. Can also be used affectionately for close female relatives or friends.

So in terms of meanings, aunty and auntie are generally interchangeable when referring informally to an aunt, older female relative, or family friend. The key difference lies in the dialects and regions where each is more commonly used.

UK and British English

In the UK and in British English dialects, aunty is the standard and far more common spelling. Auntie is rarely used. Some key examples:

  • A young British child would refer to their aunt as “Aunty Jane” rather than “Auntie”.
  • An older British woman would be addressed as “Aunty Susan” by younger family members rather than “Auntie”.
  • British newspapers, books, and other media use “aunty” when quoting someone talking about their aunt, a neighbor, or other older woman.

So in most British English contexts, aunty is the standard while auntie is seldom used.

When Referring to Your Own Aunt

What if you want to talk specifically about your own biological aunt, rather than generically about older women? The choice of aunty vs auntie gets a bit more complex.

Using First Names

In most English-speaking countries, it’s conventional to refer to your own personal aunt by her first name rather than as Aunty or Auntie. For example:

  • “I’m going to see Aunt Jane this weekend” sounds quite childish.
  • “I’m going to see Jane this weekend” sounds much more natural for an adult.

So if precision is needed, using your aunt’s actual name is best.

Using “Aunt” + Name

Another common convention is referring to your aunt by title + name.

For example:

  • “I’m going to see Aunt Jane this weekend” is appropriate for both adults and children.
  • “Did you hear Aunt Catherine is coming to visit?” also works for all ages.

So “Aunt Jane” or “Aunt Catherine” is a safe bet when talking about your own aunt, especially in formal contexts.

When Aunty/Auntie is Acceptable

However, in informal contexts, using aunty or auntie is fine if:

  • You are a young child. “Aunty Kim is taking me to the zoo!”
  • You have a very casual and familial relationship with the aunt. E.g. a niece calling her aunt “Auntie” up until her 20s.
  • You are specifically wanting to express familial affection. “I haven’t seen Aunty Anne in years!”

So aunty/auntie is acceptable in informal situations or when expressing fondness for a close aunt. But use the proper name or “Aunt [Name]” in formal contexts.

Other Usage Notes

Here are some final notes on navigating the aunty/auntie spellings:

  • The spelling auntie is sometimes preferred in the US to distinguish from the British aunty and indicate the Americanized pronunciation “ahn-tee”.
  • In South Asian cultures, aunty is often used as a sign of respect for any older woman, even if she is not a blood relative.
  • The plural is typically aunties rather than auntys no matter the dialect.
  • Some older women dislike being called aunty/auntie as they feel it implies they are aging. Use with caution unless you know it’s a welcome term.
  • If in doubt, default to “Ms.” or “Mrs.” and the last name rather than aunty/auntie to be safe

Example Sentences

Aunty Examples:

  • My Aunty Jane always brings me sweets when she visits. (UK English)
  • We’re going to meet my Aunty Susan for tea today. (Australian English)
  • Aunty Rachel is my favorite aunt because she’s so much fun. (New Zealand English)
  • When I was little, I used to love storytime with Aunty Lucy. (Informal British English)

Auntie Examples:

  • Auntie Carol said she’d take me shopping this weekend for new clothes. (American English)
  • Auntie Maxine came over to help me bake cookies. (Canadian English)
  • Even though we’re not related, I call our close neighbor Auntie Faye. (Informal US English)
  • My Auntie Amy is coming to my graduation next week. (Formal American English)
  • I can’t wait to see Auntie Usha at the reunion. (South Asian family context)


In summary, aunty is the conventional spelling in British English and is also used in Australia/New Zealand when talking about aunts and older women.

Auntie is more common in American and Canadian English, though aunty also appears.

When speaking about your own personal aunt, her first name or “Aunt [First Name]” are safest, but aunty/auntie can be used informally.

The key is being aware of regional speech patterns to determine if aunty or auntie is more appropriate. With closeness of relationship and the speaker’s age also influencing things, it’s not always a straightforward choice! But understanding the origins and customary usages goes a long way in picking the right term.

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