How are we all related ?

As the Family Tree grows, so far at 180 names and counting, people may struggle to piece together how to refer to a relative, as in cousin, 2nd cousin etc.  Hopefully this will make it clearer.

Figuring Out Family Relationships

We all understand basic relationship words such as “mom,” “dad,” “aunt,” “uncle,” “brother,” and “sister.”

What about  “second cousin” and “first cousin, once removed”? That’s where it loses us.

As we continue to discover new relatives we didn’t know we had, these definitions may help:


Cousin (a.k.a “first cousin”)

Your first cousins are the people in the family who have TWO of the same grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts and uncles.


Second Cousin

Your second cousins are the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same grandparents.


Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins

Your third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents, fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents, and so on.



The two people from different generations are classed as “removed”. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word “removed” is not used.

The words “once removed” mean that there is a difference of one generation. For example, your mom’s first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mom’s first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. The one-generation difference equals “once removed.”

Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother’s first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.

Totally clear ? As Mud !

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