Is there a word or phrase to describe all familial relatives who are a part of the same family tree, but not either direct ancestors or direct descendants?

Included in that list would be:

  • siblings
  • siblings of parents (aunts/uncles)
  • siblings of other ancestors (great-aunts/uncles, etc)
  • children and descendants of the above (cousins, nieces/nephews, etc)

The term collateral descendant appears to cover a subset of that group, but not the descendants of ancestors not in the same direct line, such as aunts/uncles.

  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/61559/…
    – user66974
    Sep 20, 2015 at 10:26
  • @Josh61, thanks for pointing that out. "Indirect descendants" might work for my use case, though I suppose it requires knowledge of the root ancestor.
    – Venning
    Sep 20, 2015 at 10:36
  • I don't know the answer but I know the term that covers this sort of thing. It is 'kinship terminology'. That's a good starting point for a google search. Here's a wiki article that discusses the field ---> en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinship_terminology Sep 20, 2015 at 10:49
  • I've not heard a term for this. I find it hard to come up with a context where you'd need to refer to these relatives as a general class.
    – Barmar
    Sep 21, 2015 at 18:59
  • 1
    @Barmar, my context is within computer science, which is what probably makes this an odd request. I have a tree of nodes with one root node and, from the perspective of a given child, I need to describe all children of the root node not in direct lineage with the given child. I suppose I could invent a term.
    – Venning
    Sep 21, 2015 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


What you call "direct ancestors or direct descendants", I call "immediate family".

So to invert that, how about "distant family", or "distant relatives", or even "peripheral family/relatives"?

However, from a Computer Science point of view, I would probably use "indirect descendants" and "indirect ancestors". To wrap both into one word, how about "indirect kinship"? I wouldn't use "indirect family", as that could extend into step-/half-/in-law-relationships from marriages and adoptions.

  • "Immediate family" would never include great-great-grandparents, and in some cultures it would include first-cousins; both situations being the opposite of what I am asking. I like where you're going with "indirect" relationships, though.
    – Venning
    Oct 3, 2015 at 16:27

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