What is a polite term of address to use for a friend's mother?

Is it impolite to call her by name?

3 Answers 3


In order to address my own mother, I would use the word "어머니."

In order to address someone else's mother, I would use the word "어머님." It comes down to honorific usage; please refer to the section Honorific nouns in the Wikipedia entry on Korean honorifics.

  • 1
    Koreans never address someone else's mother as 어머님, unless she is your mother-in-law. However you can refer to them as __의 어머님.
    – MujjinGun
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 4:33
  • @MujjinGun That is true. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 21:20

It is never polite to call anyone by their names unless they are of the same age and your friends.

You can't use '씨' after their names, either as it sounds disrespectful.

As suggested by @PhonicsTheHedgehog, it is better to use '어머니' or '어머님' which is an honorific form of '엄마 (mother)' which is used to call your own mother.

If you are close enough to her, you can call her '엄마', but it is rare. If you are not close enough to call her '어머님' or '어머니', you can call her 'your friend's name + 어머니 (어머님)', for example, 철수 어머니 (어머님). But it could sound too formal if you use 철수 어머님 which is more broadly used by 철수's teacher, for example.

I have never heard anyone calling their friend's mother '아주머니' or '아줌마' as they are used to call an older woman you don't know, for example a woman in their 40's and 50's who are working in a restaurant or selling things in the market.

It is not easy to decide which to use, but you can stick to 어머니 and 어머님 as no mother will take offense from them and rather they would like it.


아주머니 is the best word for this. 아줌마 is informal and sounds a little immature.

  • 1
    I just noticed this answer after looking at the tour page. Do you really think 아주머니 is the best word for this?
    – user7
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 15:35
  • I can't think of many situations where 아줌마 would be used to address the person. Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 3:49

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