Aunt : the sister of one's father or mother. Or the wife of one's uncle.
(Origin - Old French ante )
Unless, of course, one lives in India. When every girl goes through a weird metamorphosis the minute she ties the knot and even before she steps out of the marriage hall. She is now Aunty to every one under 20.
Hey, so what if the addressor is all of 19 ? Our glowing bride is now a very respectable Aunty... even if she was thought to be the hottest babe in town just yesterday!
The silk saris dripping zari and that new tag of Mrs. before her name brings with it heavy burdens. Not the least of them being this Aunty-fication!
Not 'Aunt X' or 'Aunt Y', but a very universal Aunty to the young.
To the others, she is a stop-gap bhabhi (sister-in-law). No matter that she may have never seen them before nor likely to ever again, and irrespective of a decided lack of any family connections either by blood or marriage. She is still their bhabhi; her mangalsutra/ sindoor/ wedding-band has seen to that!
Then the first heir to the family genes appears. Now our Aunty-to-the-young takes on wider responsibilities in more ways than one. She is now Aunty to the world in general, age no bar. Even 40-somethings take the liberty of "aunty"-ing her. The young newly marrieds call her Aunty. So does the balding man in the provision store . As do all the children in her building, road and city. How very respectful!
Not to mention, restricting!
Of late my son has taken to this new form of repressal :"Mama, don't be such an Aunty!"
Aunties, apparently, aren't fun people. Gulp!