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Most people think that their cousin’s child is their second cousin. Typically, they’ll refer to them as their second cousin and will address them as their cousin. While this is the norm for most people, it’s not correct.
Your cousin’s child is actually called your first cousin once removed. Since they’re “removed,” they aren’t referred to as your cousin. Instead, the proper way to address them is by calling them your niece or nephew.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Does Once Removed Mean?
- 2 What Are Second Cousins?
- 3 What Is My Second Cousin’s Child To Me?
- 4 What Is A Double Cousin?
- 5 Your Parents Cousins Are Also Your Cousins
- 6 Interesting Family Terms You Probably Don’t Know Yet
What Does Once Removed Mean?
Saying someone is once removed can make it sound like someone got divorced, but that’s not the case. Each generation of your cousin’s children is referred to as removed.
For example, your cousin’s children would be your cousin once removed. Your cousin’s grandchildren will be your cousins twice removed.
What Are Second Cousins?
Second cousins are your children and your cousin’s children. Each new generation adds a new number. For example, if both second cousins have children, those kids would be third cousins to each other.
An easy way to tell whether someone is your second cousin is to look at your common ancestor. First, determine who your closest common ancestor is.
For you and your siblings, this would be your parents. This is why you and your siblings are not cousins. For your cousins, this might be that your parent is their aunt, which would make your parent the common ancestor.
After determining your common ancestor, look at how many generations back that common ancestor is. Your parents are in the first generation. Grandparents are the second generation, and so on.
Once you know how many generations back the common ancestor is, you’ll know what number to put in front of the word cousin.
The number is the same as the number of generations back the common ancestor is minus one. You can also count the number of greats in the person’s title, and add one.
For example, if the common ancestor is:
- Grandparent (two generations) is your first cousin
- Great grandparent (three generations) is your second cousin
- Great-great grandparent (four generations) is your third cousin
What Is My Second Cousin’s Child To Me?
Your second cousin’s child is your third cousin. Remember, each new generation simply adds a number. It can get confusing but remember that most people refer to everyone as their cousin, and this is socially acceptable.
What Is A Double Cousin?
While you won’t come across this situation a lot, it does still happen. If one set of siblings marries another set of siblings, their children would technically be double first cousins. This is because both cousins have the same set of grandparents.
For example, if I and my sister married men that were brothers, this sets the stage for double first cousins. Then, if we both had children by our husbands, they would be called double first cousins.
Your Parents Cousins Are Also Your Cousins
An easy way to determine if someone is your cousin is by looking at their relationship with your parents. All of your parent’s cousins are also your cousins, but you add once removed after them.
For example, your parent’s first cousin is your first cousin once removed. Your mom’s second cousin becomes your second cousin once removed.
Your dad’s third cousin is your third cousin once removed. This quick tip can make determining whether someone is your cousin or not pretty simple.
Interesting Family Terms You Probably Don’t Know Yet
No one seems to know what makes a second cousin, or third cousin. I just discovered what once removed meant when writing this article!
Here are some other interesting family terms that are commonly used incorrectly, or that you might not know yet.
Grand Aunt vs. Great Aunt
Most people refer to their grandparent’s sister as their great aunt. However, this is actually your grand aunt! Grand aunts are your grandparent’s sisters.
The title great aunt is reserved for generations after your closest grandparents. It works the same way with great and granduncles.
A nuclear family commonly refers to two parents and their children living in the same household. Today, this term is often used to describe the members of one household, although it is technically incorrect.
A nuclear family is not the same as a single-parent household, households with multiple wives or husbands, and does not account for extended family members.
Parallel Cousins And Cross Cousins Explained
If you’re researching terminology and trying to determine how cousins work, you’re bound to come across the terms parallel cousins or cross cousins.
Parallel cousins mean that they’re the children of same-sex siblings. Cross cousins mean that they are the kids of opposite-sex siblings. For example, my children and my sister’s children are technically called parallel cousins.
My children and my brother’s children are technically called ‘cross cousins.’ I don’t bother with either of those terms, personally. I call them cousins.
If you’re researching what a particular relative is, the cousin chart above can be a big help. The further you go into terminology, the more confusing it can get.
Remember, social norms are still to call everyone a cousin so there is no shame in that if that’s what your family does.