I came across this e card:


and the capitalisation of "uncle" just somehow disturbed me. To the point where I googled the capitalisation of "aunt" and "uncle" and I found this GrammarBook article by Jane Straus which seems to suggest that after "your" uncle is not capitalised.

It would be ironic if the person making fun of capitalisation couldn't get it right themselves. However, further googling yielded some contradicting results.

Hence my question is:

To capitalise or not to capitalise 'Uncle' etc (after your)?

  • 2
    It's capitalized for the sake of the pun. See jack off.
    – Yay
    Feb 8, 2016 at 10:49
  • 1
    @Yay That's not the point here, I'm afraid.
    – NVZ
    Feb 8, 2016 at 11:19
  • @NVZ How come? According to the link provided, it shouldn't be capitalized, but the rule for capitalizing kinship names is stretched a little here to make the pun clearer. Maybe, the pun would have been better if only Jack had been capitalized, but I don't think the rule for capitalizing kinship names in this case is clear-cut anyway.
    – Yay
    Feb 8, 2016 at 12:02
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth Duplicate, perhaps. But here OP asked whether this ecard has made a mistake by using your Uncle instead of your uncle.
    – NVZ
    Feb 8, 2016 at 12:55
  • If you refer to the sibling of your parent as "Uncle Jack" then it's capitalized. If he is your "uncle, Jack", then it's not capitalized.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 8, 2016 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


The website http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2014/11/aunt-uncle.html says that the distinction is a matter of style, not grammar.

In the article, it quotes the Chicago Manual of Style, which seems to support the notion that in the phrase "your uncle Jack," uncle is not capitalized. But many people find fault with the CMOS, so you are free not to heed its dicta.

The site http://grammartips.homestead.com/betty.html makes an interesting distinction:

What about "her aunt Betty"? Well, that depends--if you mean "Aunt" as part of Betty's "name," then write "her Aunt Betty"; but if you mean it the same way you'd say "her sister Betty," then don't capitalize the word.

But a Google Ngram of my aunt Betty vs. my Aunt Betty shows the latter more popular by a margin of about 2.5 to 1.

I personally would capitalize. To me, because most people call their aunts named Betty "Aunt Betty," aunt should be considered part of the name. Not so necessarily with other kinship words like sister or cousin, as mentioned above.

But ultimately, it's a matter of style. So I doubt you can reasonably say the e-card is incorrect; it would make just as much sense, though, if it said uncle Jack.

  • This answer adds significantly to those at the former question. Feb 8, 2016 at 13:27
  • I've just remembered a quote from the Western Sabata : 'I'm sorry ... Your Father Brown has just died from a coffin' fit.' You're quite right: part of the title or not? Feb 8, 2016 at 13:33

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