An "agnate" (Used both as a noun and adjective) is a person descended from the same male ancestor as another, through the male line. A "paternal kinsman" is also a way of defining "agnate."


Is there a similar word meaning a relative through female line, a "maternal kinsman"?

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    Upvoting for Crusader Kings ( ಠ╭╮ರೃ) – Patrick M Jul 29 '15 at 6:00
  • @PatrickM lol, me too – o0'. Jul 29 '15 at 9:07

The word you're looking for is enate.

From The Free Dictionary:

e·nate (ĭ-nāt′, ē′nāt′) adj. 1. Growing outward. 2. also e·nat·ic (ĭ-năt′ĭk) Related on the mother's side. n. A relative on one's mother's side.


Maybe "cognates"? Look at this:

...persons who are related through females are not agnates but are otherwise relatives (cognati, “cognates”) by natural law. Thus, the relationship between an uncle and the son of his sister is not agnate but cognate. Likewise, the son of an aunt on my father’s or mother’s side is not my agnate but my cognate; and in turn, of course, I am related to him by the same rule.

A Casebook on Roman Family Law  
By Bruce W. Frier and Thomas A.J. McGinn

  • That was my feeling too, but it's too uncommon to use it in this sense. What do you think? – asef Jul 28 '15 at 23:28
  • I don't know because English isn't my mother tongue. Hope someone else can help you. The merriam dictionary defines the word cognate as: related by blood or related on the mother's side. But as I am not a native I don't know if there is another word – italiana Jul 28 '15 at 23:32
  • Good find. The passage makes me think "cognate" does not mean "female relatives" specifically, but just "relatives" in general. – sumelic Jul 29 '15 at 0:55
  • I found another little passage that suggests that "cognate" can be used in a general meaning, or as a matrilineal counterpart to "agnate." gem.greenwood.com/wse/wsePrint.jsp?id=id27 – sumelic Jul 29 '15 at 0:58

Matrilineality is the tracing of descent through the female line.

  • In a matrilineal descent system, an individual is considered to belong to the same descent group as her or his mother. This matrilineal descent pattern is in contrast to the more common pattern of patrilineal descent from which a family name is usually derived.

  • The matriline of historical nobility was also called her or his enatic or uterine ancestry (corresponding to the patrilineal "agnatic" ancestry).

  • In some traditional societies and cultures, membership in their groups was – and, in the following list, still is if shown in italics – inherited matrilineally. Examples include the Cherokee, Choctaw, Gitksan, Haida, Hopi, Iroquois, Lenape, Navajo and Tlingit of North America.



The enatic line is also known as the distaff line, since the distaff (the short rod on which fibers to be spun into yarn or thread are wound) was mostly used by women.


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