Family connections are a vital part of genealogy. Getting a handle on the different cousin relationships is essential to understanding your DNA matches and learning more about your ancestry.

One of the more confusing cousin relations is the first cousin once removed. The term, once removed, means that your cousin’s child is a generation above or below you.


First cousins share a standard set of grandparents. The ” once removed” part of the definition means you are one generation away from your cousin’s children. In the illustration below, you are a first cousin once removed of your father’s nephew’s child. A blue circle indicates your relationship with this person.

Generally, the more generations that pass between you and your cousin’s most recent common ancestor, the higher your relationship is in the cousin hierarchy. For example, you have a greater chance of sharing a great-grandparent than your third cousins, who have more than twice as many shared grandparental ties with you.

Separating your cousins by generation gets more complicated as you go up in the hierarchy. The number of generations between you and your cousin determines how close or distant your relationship is.

There are also terms for other degrees of distant relationship between relatives, such as cousin-uncle and cousin-niece (or uncle-niece) or cousin-great-uncle and cousin-great-niece. These terms indicate the direction of the generation gap and are helpful for people researching their family tree. Mennonite and other religious families often use these types of relationships. You may also hear these terms used in regular English-speaking families, such as referring to your aunt and uncle’s children. In these cases, you are addressing your cousins and grandchildren as their nieces and nephews, and they are addressing you as their uncles and aunts.


Navigating family relationships can be difficult, and it may take a while to understand terms like “once removed.” In genealogy, cousins are identified by the number of generations between them and their common ancestor. They are called first cousins when they share a parent, second when they share a grandparent, and third when they share a great-grandparent. “once removed” refers to the generational difference between the two cousins. The child of your first cousin is your 1st cousin once removed because they are one generation younger than you.

If your first cousin’s child is your nephew or niece, they are your second cousins. A nephew or niece is the offspring of your uncle or aunt, and their children are your second cousins.

The relationship becomes more complicated when you add other relatives to the mix. Cousins are related to each other through their parents, but additional relatives can complicate the relationship. Cousin-uncle or cousin-aunt refers to the brothers and sisters of your parents, and cousin-niece and cousin-nephew are the children of your uncles or aunts.

Other family terms are also used for more specific relations. For example, cousin-granduncle and cousin-grandniece describe a relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. This is more common in Mennonite, Indian, and Pakistani families.


In family trees, it’s essential to understand the relationships between relatives. This is important for genealogy and can be significant in legal matters such as inheritance or familial rights. Cousins are relatives who share a common ancestor. However, depending on how many generations that ancestor was removed from you, there are different types of cousin relationships.

“once removed” means you are one generation away from your cousin. So if your cousin has children, then their children are your first cousins once removed. This is because you are both one generation away from your common ancestor.

You can also determine the relationship between two people by counting how many generations it takes to reach a common ancestor. To do this, count how many “greats” are in the common ancestor’s name and add 1. This will give you the relative’s relationship to you.


Navigating family relationships can be tricky. It’s even more complicated when you add concepts like ” once removed” or “twice removed.” Fortunately, once you get the hang of it, you can understand how the terms work and how they apply to various familial connections.

First cousins are people you share two of the same grandparents with. They are the children of your aunts and uncles. A first cousin once removed is a person who shares one common grandparent with you but is separated by one generation. Their child is their first cousin’s child.

To determine how many generations your cousin is removed, subtract the number of generations you share from the number of generations they share with their common ancestor. For example, if your cousin has three of the same great-grandparents as you do, they are three generations removed. If they have four of the same great-grandparents, they are four generations removed.

In addition to defining degrees of cousinhood, these relationships can be described using titles such as “cousin-uncle/aunt” for older relatives and “cousin-niece/nephew” for younger ones. These titles are used in some Mennonite and Indian families. However, they are different from most other cultures. Referring to your cousin as an uncle or an aunt can be offensive in some cultures.

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