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Is there an accepted rule for naming all of our various distant relatives (Kinship Terms)?

My relationship to my cousin's dad is nephew-uncle.

My relationship to my cousin is cousin-cousin.

What is my relationship to my cousin's child? Is it still cousin-cousin?


It is "cousin once removed".

See the nifty chart:
(chart credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:European_kinship_system_en.svg)

European kinship system

To summarize, what you do is, you take whatever relation you are to the person in his direct ancestry of the same generation as you, and that's the "base" of the relationship; then, however many generations you had to move to get to 'your' generation, that's how far removed he is.

So, you want to know what relation your cousin's son (I'll call him "Fred") is to you. Obviously your cousin is the person in Fred's ancestry of the same generation as you, so you and Fred count as cousins of some sort. And, you only had to go one generation (from Fred to his parents) to get to the same generation level, so you and Fred are once removed from each other. Thus, cousins once removed.

Note that, as pointed out by AShelly, this process is only appropriate for figuring out people below you in the ancestral tree; the earlier-generation individual is the basis of the relation definition.

  • Haha, my answer also has a wikipedia chart. Mine is less colourful, though. – user11550 Dec 9 '11 at 0:33
  • there, now they're a little more different. ;-) – Hellion Dec 9 '11 at 0:38
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    Now yours is better. +1 for you, sir! – user11550 Dec 9 '11 at 0:39
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    Technicalities aside, I'd call Fred my nephew, and he'd probably call me aunt. (This is presuming that Fred is the right age to be my nephew, i.e. about the age of my children if I had any. If he's closer to my age than my hypothetical children's age, then I'd use the cousin-once-removed terminology.) – Marthaª Dec 9 '11 at 1:08
  • According to that chart, it seems your rule-of-thumb only works for generations younger than you. In the upward direction, my first cousin once removed is my father's cousin, not my cousin's father (who is my uncle). – AShelly Dec 9 '11 at 3:59

Well, you would call this person your cousin once removed, and they would call you the same thing, as per this Wikipedia chart.

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