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In the context of family, the term "immediate" refers to member of the family connected by birth, adoption, marriage, civil partnership, or cohabitation.

Is t here a term that refers to the rest of the family?

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@speedyGonzales, I need a word that describes "family". –  Emanuil Rusev May 22 '13 at 9:28
    
Here's a related article: phrasemix.com/answers/… –  Emanuil Rusev May 22 '13 at 9:33
    
"Opposite" is not really the correct term, here. Opposite suggests antonym, which would make "distant" more appropriate. You want "all members of the set 'family' who are not members of the set 'immediate family'", and so "extended" is more useful. "Not X" is a different thing from "The opposite of X". –  itsbruce Jun 7 '13 at 16:46
    
One's "libidinous great-great-great-grandpa's descendants." –  Senex Ægypti Parvi 2 days ago

6 Answers 6

up vote 52 down vote accepted

Extended family is the usual term covering in-laws, cousins, and so forth.

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I was at a wedding this weekend and the photographer was taking photos first of the immediate family and then of the extended family. –  Matt Эллен May 22 '13 at 9:59
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I would definitely agree with Extended and not Distant. Distant is more concerned with the actual nitty-gritty constituents and dynamic of a relationship not what the hierarchical relationship actually is - to be honest, you could have a Distant, immediate brother. –  James Stott May 22 '13 at 10:11
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@JamesStott I'd say that "distant" can carry the same meaning as "extended," but it's usually applied to a single person -- a distant cousin (second cousin, twice removed) is part of your extended family. Of course, I also agree that "distant" can refer to either emotional or genealogical distance. –  apsillers May 22 '13 at 13:05
    
Extended can carry the connotation of including both immediate and distant family, so for a true opposite, Brian Hooper's answer is actually better. –  Iain Hallam Jun 21 '13 at 12:20

I'd suggest you probably want distant:-

  1. Far apart in relationship: a distant cousin.
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The opposite of immediate relatives, to me, would be remote relatives. And "the word that describes family" would be, well, family.

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Do you actually use "Remote relatives" to denote such relatives? Have heard such term for the first time. –  Mohit May 22 '13 at 10:27
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@Mohit, I've heard remote used for this but chiefly in the phrase remote ancestor. –  Brian Hooper May 22 '13 at 11:30
    
@Mohit yes, I actually use it. Apparently so does the San Francisco Chronicle and a bunch of books on Google Books. I never said it was popular, let alone the most popular. In fact I expressly added "to me". –  RegDwigнt May 22 '13 at 12:16
    
To me, remote relatives would be more removed than extended relatives, and may well be several generations removed. –  TrevorD May 22 '13 at 12:26
    
@BrianHooper - Hmm. I see. We, in India, use "distant relatives" a lot to refer to relatives outside the immediate circle. I never happened to refer to any ancient ancestor of mine, so never got to use "remote ancestor". –  Mohit May 24 '13 at 4:29

I would also say distant. I've never actually heard remote being used to refer to relatives who's ties to you are distant / far-apart.

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The word "family"--in my experience--is only utilized with "immediate", whereas when using "remote" or "distant" I'd switch to "relative" or "relatives."

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I hear (and use) "blended family" for the result of divorce, remarriage etc.

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