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A "cousin" has to be one of the most misunderstood or confusing terms especially when talking about which cousin and how many times removed. Below is a table showing the relationship of various cousins.

An example of the use of this table would be to find myself ("self"), go diagonally up to my great-great-grandparents, and straight down to their child, grandchild, & then great-grandchild. This person is my 2nd cousin, once removed.


Great Grandparents Great-Grand Uncles/Aunts

Grandparents Grand Uncles/Aunts 1st Cousin Twice Removed

Parents Aunts/Uncles 1st Cousins Once Removed 2nd Cousins Once Removed
Self Brothers/Sisters 1st Cousins 2nd Cousins 3rd Cousins
Children Nephews/Nieces 1st Cousins Once Removed 2nd Cousins Once Removed 3rd Cousins Once Removed
Grand Children Grand Nephews/Nieces 1st Cousins Twice Removed 2nd Cousins Twice Removed 3rd Cousins Twice Removed
Great-Grand Children Great-Grand Nephews/Nieces 1st Cousins Thrice Removed 2nd Cousins Thrice Removed 3rd Cousins Thrice Removed
2nd Great-Grand Children 2nd Great-Grand Nephews/Nieces 1st Cousins 4x Removed 2nd Cousins 4x Removed 3rd Cousins 4x Removed

To figure out the relationship of a cousin without the table, you need to count the number of generations to the common ancestor for both yourself and the individual in question.

Looking at the two numbers:

  • If one of the numbers is zero, then the relationship is one of a direct line relative.
  • If one of the numbers is one, then the relationship is one of a sibling or niece/nephew (or aunt/uncle depending which way you are looking at it), etc.
  • Otherwise, the smaller of the two numbers will give you the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. cousin after subtracting one.

For example, if I count four generations between myself and the common ancestor AND three generations between the other relative and the same common ancestor, I take the smaller of the two numbers and subtract one giving two, so they are a second cousin with some number removed.

To figure how much removed, I take the larger of the two numbers (3) and subtract the smaller of the two numbers (2) giving 1, so they are once removed.

Another confusing thing is the use of grand and great. Although some use the terms synonymously, they have a predefined definition. When you talking about mother, aunt, niece, etc. and then adding one more generation, the most correct reference is adding grand (grandmother, grandaunt, grandniece, etc.). Adding one more generation adds a great in front of it (great-grandmother). Another generation adds another great (2nd great-grandmother) . . . and so on.

Cousin tree.png