How do Cousins Work?

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I’ve been involved in a few debates in recent times for the correct terms for cousins once you go beyond the simple ‘cousin’ as in daughter/son of an uncle/aunt stage.  What do you call the daughter/son of a cousin?  Or a cousin of a cousin?  There’s all sorts of numbers involved (always guaranteed to get me confused) in the names bandied about by knowledgable genealogists and don’t even get me started on the term ‘removed’, who removed them?!

I’ve finally got around to looking up the whole messy mess and it seems like I’m not the only one and so I’m going to post this funky chart that hopefully is both correct and enlightening:

A Chart of Cousins

Now I just have to spend some time considering, inwardly digesting and hopefully ‘learning’.  Oh and if you’re one of those very knowledgable folks, any more ‘light’ would be gratefully received!

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5 thoughts on “How do Cousins Work?

  1. Anonymous

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  2. I’m not supergreat at it, but my great grandmother was one of nine, so I have at least some experience. The trick, as explained by my cousin Virginia (first cousin twice removed) is to remember that you never lose your level of connectedness. So if you are a first cousin to someone, then you will be a first cousin to that person’s offspring and their offspring. You just add a ‘removed’. So Virginia is my grandmother’s first cousin, my mother’s first cousin once removed, my first cousin twice removed, and my CHILDREN’S first cousin thrice removed. (Wow. I haven’t deliberately used the word thrice in ever). So essentially “once removed” means “one generation removed”.

    On my husband’s side, he has some first cousins. His first cousins are first cousins once removed from our kids. But since their kids and our kids are from the same generation, they are second cousins. They are all born in the second generation (if you consider my hubs and his cousins as the first).

    Where it gets complicated for me is that somebody can always be a ‘first’ ‘second’ or ‘third’ to someone else. It isn’t like there’s one master list where we’re all divided from the house of Adam (or whatever) and carefully tracked through the ages.

    • Hmm, so is the first cousin thing on this chart wrong then?? Thrice is a great word, it’s the kind of word we need to use more often! OK, so I think I’ve got the firsts and removeds sussed so now I need to do some more work on seconds. Thanks for some more ‘light’! :)

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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