Cousins Chart: Understanding Your Family Relationships

Having trouble coming up with the proper term for your mother's uncle's father for your family tree? Here's a guide to who's who in the family structure.

Second cousin twice removed. Sounds mathematical, as though establishing a family relationship required the use of trigonometric algorithms. But like so many apparently daunting areas of expertise, it's really just a matter of learning the lingo. In the definitions below, "you" serve as the frame of reference, around which all the other relations revolve.

Uncle and Aunt

Your parents' brothers and sisters, and their spouses. You don't need any blood connection to be a full-fledged aunt or uncle. Your mother's sister's husband is not your uncle by marriage. He's your uncle, fair and square.

Niece and Nephew

Son and daughter of your siblings and siblings-in-law. As with uncle and aunt, they're not your nieces and nephews by marriage, they're your nieces and nephews, plain and simple, even if they're your spouse's siblings' kids and don't have a single drop of blood in common with you.

First Cousin, Full Cousin, Cousin-German

Children of your parents' brothers and sisters. You and your first cousins share one set of grandparents.

Double First Cousins

If a pair of brothers marries a pair of sisters, their kids are not only first cousins, they're double first cousins: They have both sets of grandparents in common.

Second Cousins

You and the children of your parents' cousins are second cousins and share at least one great-grandparent. Your child and your cousin's child are second cousins.

Third Cousins

You and the children of your parents' second cousins are third cousins and share at least one great-great-grandparent. And so on with the fourth, fifth, and sixth cousins.

First Cousin Once Removed

A relationship that is removed is one that exists in two different genealogical generations. Generation refers to the order of birth, a genealogical level. Your aunt and your mother may have been born 20 years apart, but they are still of the same generation. Your parent's first cousin is your first cousin once removed. The child of your first cousin is also your first cousin once removed: your grandparent is that child's great-grandparent. You can do the whole "removed" thing for every category of cousins—second cousin once removed, and so on. But by then you'll probably drive everyone completely crazy.

Grandaunt and Granduncle

We always called grandpa's sister "great-aunt." But the experts say that terminology is incorrect, and the terms above should be used instead to refer to the siblings of your grandparents. (Which doesn't mean we have any intention of using them.)

Great-Grandaunts and Great-Granduncles

Your great-grandparents' brothers and sisters.

In-laws

Family by marriage: Your spouse's parents, spouses of your siblings, and spouses of your spouse's siblings. That is, your brother's wife is an in-law, but none of her siblings are. And your husband's sister's husband is your in-law, but none of his brothers are. And in-laws pretty much stop with your parents-in-law and your siblings-in-law. You are not in-laws with the parents of your sister-in-law's husband. And the two sets of parents of a couple are not in-laws to each other either; they are the competitive parents—an entirely different category.

Affinity Relatives

Your husband or wife's blood relatives -- the in-laws that are biologically related to your spouse.

Birth Mother, Biological Mother, Natural Mother

Terms for the biological mother of a child who has (usually) been adopted by other parents.

Adoptive Mother

Mother of a child who is not biologically her own.

31 Comments

  1. Say you have a friend. He tells you that he has a cousin on his dad’s side that’s YOUR cousin on your mom’s side. (It’s very awkward rn) What does that make me and my friend???

  2. I have a son, and my uncle (from my mothers side) just had a son. Who are our children to each other?

  3. I don’t know if this is the right place for this type of question but I don’t know who else to ask. I’ve know for years but until recently I’ve been confirmed that my parents were cousins and I really want to know if that could in any way affect my future children? And No, my partner wouldn’t be related to me. (Could you reply to this at my email? Vianneylizardi2@gmail.com for easier communication? Please and thank you!)

  4. My grandmother/grandma(my father's mother) has a brother 😂her brother has a daughter then his daughter married a man(and they have a kids)😂So what are they to me(the daughter,the husband/man and their kids)?

    1. Daughter = 2nd Cousin & Affinity Cousin
      Their children = 2nd Cousins Once Removed
      Phew...

  5. I have a sister who is married to her third husband with kids by each husband. The kids are all married and have kids that are dating offspring from her other marriages. All of the dads are remarried. What will that make the kids own kids if they should have them to their first cousins?

    1. Do you live in WV, LA, AL, UT? You’d probably call them cousins of the shallow gene pool. They could be easy to ID at family gatherings by the number of teeth they have, whether they have congenital heart or other genetic mishaps. In most states, I suspect their marriage to one another would be illegal in order to protect their offspring from congenital defects. Poor kids.

  6. My Uncle (from Mother side) has a child named Rob. Rob has a cousin named Don (from the side of the wife of my uncle). What is my relationship with Don?

    1. You are not related by blood to your maternal uncle’s wife, so Don is not related to you at all, other than maybe an affinity type of relation through the affinity relation you have with Rob’s mother/your maternal uncle’s wife.

  7. what would my mother's cousin's daughter's son be to my daughter

    1. Your mother’s cousin shares a grandparent (or grandparents) with your mother.

      You share GREAT grandparents with mom’s cousin’ children - you are their SECOND cousin.

      YOUR children share GREAT GREAT grandparent(s) with the children of your second cousin - they are THIRD cousins.

  8. My moms uncle is my teachers father what is my teacher to me??

    1. first cousin once removed

    2. The teacher is your moms cousin, so the teacher is your 1st cousin once removed.

    3. 1st cousin. Children of siblings are 1st cousins

    4. Your cousin

  9. Please help... What would my 2nd cousin 3 times removed's son be to me? (None of the charts I can find go that far...)

    1. Hmm assuming you are calculating it correctly. That would just be a 2nd cousin 4 times removed. You second cousin's great-great-great grandchild?

    2. One more 'removed' since it is a direct descendent of the 2nd cousin.

  10. My dads sister is married to my 3rd cousin. What is the relationship between my dads sister and my 3rd cousin?



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