If someone walked up to you and said "Howdy, I'm
your third cousin, twice removed," would you have any idea what they
meant? Most people have a good understanding of basic relationship words
such as "mother," "father," "aunt,"
"uncle," "brother," and "sister." But what
about the relationship terms that we don't use in everyday speech? Terms
like "second cousin" and "first cousin, once removed"?
We don't tend to speak about our relationships in such exact terms
("cousin" seems good enough when you are introducing one person
to another), so most of us aren't familiar with what these words mean.
Sometimes, especially when working on your family history, it's handy
to know how to describe your family relationships more exactly. The
definitions below should help you out.
(a.k.a. "first cousin")
Your first cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same
grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts
Cousin Your second cousins are
the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you., but
not the same grandparents.
Fourth, and Fifth Cousins Your third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents,
fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents, and so on.
When the word "removed" is used to describe a
relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different
generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two
generations younger than your grandparents), so the word "removed"
is not used to describe your relationship.
The words "once removed" mean that there is a difference of
one generation. For example, your mother's first cousin is your first
cousin, once removed. This is because your mother's first cousin is one
generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations
younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference equals
Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You
are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you
and your grandmother's first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.
Relationship Charts Simplify
Now that you have an idea of what these different words mean, take a
look at the chart below. It's called a relationship chart, and it can help
you figure out how different people in your family are related. It's much
simpler than it looks, just follow the instructions.
Instructions for Using a Relationship Chart
1. Pick two people in your family and figure out which ancestor they
have in common. For example, if you chose yourself and a cousin, you would
have a grandparent in common.
2. Look at the top row of the chart and find the- first person's
relationship to the common ancestor.
3. Look at the far left column of the chart and find the second
person's relationship to the common ancestor.
4. Determine where the row and column containing those two