My mother’s sister’s son is my cousin; let’s call him “John”.

John’s father’s brother’s son — let’s call him Mark — is John’s cousin.

Now, Mark isn’t my direct cousin as we don't share any immediate ancestors. What kind of relationship do I have with Mark? I think this too is some sort of cousin.

I always thought this was second cousin, but it turns out, I have blood relation to a second cousin through great grandparents.

So, what is term for my relationship with Mark?

  • 3
    You don't have one.
    – user10893
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 7:21
  • 2
    To pervert an old saying, "The cousin of my cousin is my cousin."
    – Gnawme
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 8:01
  • 2
    Since there is a marriage in there (John's parents) ... maybe we could invent a term and call that guy your cousin-in-law.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 13:00
  • 1
    Someone gotta make up a term for cousin of my cousin. How about lets make up a slang term. Unrelational cousin?
    – user65265
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 4:48
  • 4
    I propose a new term: co-cousin. You jointly share a common cousin.
    – user82390
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 15:38

4 Answers 4


There isn't any family relationship between you and Mark, except

  • the cousin of your cousin is yourself or your sibling
  • the cousin of your cousin is also your cousin if his mother is the sister of your father
  • the cousin of your cousin is your second cousin if his parents and your parents are cousins (third cousin if the parents are second cousins, and so on)

A term what many people use is grand-cousin. But that's wrong, though it is used ambiguous in colloquial, at least in my mother-tongue. But think of that:

  • Your grandparents are the parents of your parent
  • Your grandaunt/granduncle is the the aunt/uncle of your parent

This leads to

  • Your grand-cousin is the cousin of your parent.

If no blood relation exists there are only few ways how a non-related person can be your cousin: E.g. the person is your step-cousin. But this doesn't work here, because:

Step-cousins are either stepchildren of an individual's aunt or uncle, children of one's step-aunt or uncle, or half-siblings of one's cousin. (WIKIPEDIA)

On the WP page you find a lot of family combinations and what they are called (e.g. Cousin-in-law: spouse of an individual's cousin), but I didn't find the relationship you mention. (Correct me, if I overlooked it)

Conclusion: I would call him cousin of cousin.

  • Maybe grandcousin? :-)
    – Jez
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 10:00

As you state, there is no common ancestor, so you are not related.

Colloquially, you can be "cousins" if there is a unique tie, and most readers would understand this. Technically, however, there is no relation.

The technical terms are as follows:

  • Siblings share the same parents.

  • Cousins share the same grandparents.

  • Second cousins share the same great-grandparents.

  • Third cousins share the same great-great-grandparents,

And so on.

The direct descendants of any cousin are "cousins once removed." thus, the direct child of your second cousins are second cousins once removed.". The grand children of your second cousins is your "second cousins twice removed." and so on.

In-laws refer to relatives related by marriage. As such, I might be tempted to force the construction "cousins-in-law", but it would be a stretch.

  • The grandchild of a second cousin is a second cousin once removed of the other cousin. Children of second cousins are third cousins to each other. "Once removed" (etc) is for cases where you're not at the same level in the tree. Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 16:13

If you are looking for a word which uniquely identifies that particular and no other relationship, there isn't one. But there is a perfectly good word which applies to such a relationship: cousin.

Cousin is used, not just for a particular technical degree of blood relation, but also for "someone who is related to you through a brother, sister, uncle, or aunt of one of your parents".¹

The broad meaning of cousin has been in use since Shakespeare's time. In fact, Shakespeare used it for "virtually any relative beyond the immediate family, both for blood relatives and relatives through marriage, and often as a term of affection between socially equal people who are not relatives at all, such as monarchs of different countries".²

  • While I love this answer, I would like to point out that most European monarchs were, and still are, blood relatives. Even the ones that married each other, it's a whole thing.
    – No Name
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 3:25
  • Specifically, the kings of France and England got into a little spat you may know as the Hundred Years' War precisely because they were blood relatives, and inheritance laws weren't clear enough about who got which crown
    – No Name
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 3:27

I have adpoted the term grand-cousin to mean the eldest cousin of your parent.

So, for example, Eric's mother is Kristine. Kristine's eldest cousin is me. So, I call myself grand-cousin.

Technically I am just one of Eric's 1st cousins once removed but being the eldest seemed special enough so I created the term grand-cousin before researching it. Now I am researching it and came across this posting.

  • Grand-cousin has possibly existed before you 'adopted' it. You seem to have adopted it before you researched it.
    – Kris
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 13:17

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