My father was married to Alice. They divorced and then my father married my mother. A few years later they later had me.

I've read this: What are the limits of the prefix 'step' to describe relationships? but was wondering if any more light could be shone on it.

Does that make Alice my ex-step-mother? Seems strange as Alice was never a "mother" in my life. Does step- work backwards?

Is there a word or term for Alice's brother in relation to me. Something like ex-step-uncle? eg. Could my ex-step-uncle borrow your wheel barrow?

  • I think "outlaw" is the usual term.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 19:12
  • I think Alice is your Father's ex-wife, and Her Brother is your father's ex wife's brother. OR your Father's ex-Brother-in-law
    – JeffUK
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 19:16
  • There are two types of relation, blood and marriage. If someone does not have the same blood-relationship as me and does not have a current relationship to me through current marriage, then there is no relationship.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 19:37
  • @NigelJ so you don't consider ex-wife or girlfriend relationships?
    – JJJ
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 0:33
  • 1
    @JJJ The law doesn't, no.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 5:00

2 Answers 2


Alice is your father's first wife. She has no relation to you at all.

Step-parents walk into your life by marrying a parent. Alice was not in your life at all: you have a mother and a father. That is, step- does not work backwards.

Alice's brother has no relation to you either, for the same reason. If it simplifies things, then he might be an ex-uncle, but that's still a bit of a misnomer because you were never his nephew: you are his sister's ex-husband's son.

It's possible that there are subsets of English which do have a term which covers your situation — indeed, young children in the UK may have "aunts" or "uncles" who are trusted adults but actually no relation at all, but that tends to wear off once they (the children!) start school.


I don't think someone can be your ex-something if he or she wasn't your something to begin with. (That's not about how kinship terms work, but about how ex- works.)

On the other hand, if your father remarried after you were born, then ex-step-uncle just might work. Here is an example of something similar:

Joanne, age 15, was 11 when her parents separated. Her father has subsequently remarried and divorced again, but Joanne still considers her ex-stepmother and ex-step-siblings part of her family. (source)

In your case, probably the best you can do is follow JeffUK's suggestion and say it is your father's ex-brother in law.

If your father and that ex-wife had had a child, then that child would have been your half-sibling (e.g. half-sister), and then you could talk about e.g. my half-sister's uncle.

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