What do you call your cousin's cousin's cousin's kids?
September 19, 2009 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I need an argument settled over the proper title for each of these relatives: (1) Your great-aunt's children, (2) Your cousin's children. Are they both called second cousin or cousin once removed, or something completely different?
posted by (bb|[^b]{2}) to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Your first cousin's children are your fist cousins once removed.

Your children and your first cousin's children are second cousins.

Your great aunt's children sounds like it would be different.
posted by dfriedman at 6:07 PM on September 19, 2009

There's a chart here on Wikipedia that details the rather complicated terminology of an extended family tree.
posted by Diagonalize at 6:10 PM on September 19, 2009

This page at Genealogy.com has a handy chart and explanations for the sometimes confusing cousin relationship terminology.
posted by amyms at 6:13 PM on September 19, 2009

Interesting. So it appears that relatives #1 and #2 are called the same thing: first cousin once removed.
posted by (bb|[^b]{2}) at 6:15 PM on September 19, 2009

I think they're both first cousins once removed, if you're talking in terms of the children's relationship to you in either case.

(1) Great-aunt's children would be cousins to one of your parents--ergo, you are their first cousin once removed.

(2) Your cousin's child is first cousin once removed to you (if you had a child, your child and your cousin's child are second cousins).
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:16 PM on September 19, 2009

Your great aunt's children are your mother or father's cousins. This is the reverse of your cousin's children to you, and, as people have noted, both relationships are your first cousins once removed. Each generation is a level: the children of first cousins are second cousins. Each difference in generation is a removal (you choose the person of the older generation to count from).
posted by jeather at 6:26 PM on September 19, 2009

Yes, both first cousin once removed (assuming that by "your cousin's children", you mean "your first cousin zero times removed's children").

"My cousin's child" is the way that a person who you would describe as "my great-aunt's child" would describe you, and cousins always have the same full Nth-cousin-M-times-removed name for each other.
posted by Flunkie at 6:32 PM on September 19, 2009

Are "grand-aunt" and "great-aunt" synonymous? In my family, we don't use great-aunt, we use grand aunt as someone in the same generation as my grandparents and then we use great grand aunt for the previous generation.
posted by SoulOnIce at 6:44 PM on September 19, 2009

This is all very illuminating. Lots of you gave me the correct answer, but to be fair I highlighted the first one. Thanks all!
posted by (bb|[^b]{2}) at 6:56 PM on September 19, 2009

I never understand why people find this difficult. It all goes by your common ancestor. Same grandparents - first cousins. Same great-grandparents - second cousins. Your grandfather = her great-grandfather - first cousins once removed. And so on and so forth.

Your great aunt's children - their grandmother is your great-grandmother. First cousins once removed. Easy!
posted by waitingtoderail at 8:15 PM on September 19, 2009

Or, look at that wikipedia chart.
posted by waitingtoderail at 8:16 PM on September 19, 2009

I'm confused. With your 1st cousin's children, you share ancestry at your grandparents. Thus, they are still 1st cousins.

But with your great-aunt's children, you share ancestry at your greatgrandparents. So why aren't they 2nd cousins?
posted by TypographicalError at 8:22 PM on September 19, 2009

Typo, it's not just that you share ancestry, but that you have the same great-grandparents, grandparents, etc. You and your mom's cousin, for example, do not have the same great-grandparents because you are in different generations; her grandma is your great-grandma.
posted by Madamina at 9:22 PM on September 19, 2009

Here's the trick I learned for remembering it, by counting Gs.

First, you figure out who your earliest common ancestor is, and what their relationship is to each person. So, in this case, your grandmother is the baby's great-grandmother. That's 1 G (in Grandmother) on your side, and two Gs (Great-Grandmother) on the baby's side. The smaller of those two numbers is the degree of cousinhood, so, in this case, first cousins.

Then, to get the removed, you subtract the counts. 2 - 1 = once removed. The new baby, your first cousin's child, is also your first cousin, but once removed.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:49 PM on September 19, 2009

Ignore the example in that -- I cut and pasted it from somewhere else, and it doesn't necessarily match the details here. The theory is sound though -- counting Gs really works.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:50 PM on September 19, 2009

Are they both called second cousin or cousin once removed, or something completely different?

Formally, these are separate terms, as the charts above show. Informally, I have often heard second cousin used where first cousin once removed is the relationship. If it were conversational, I would let it go. Families tend to share terminology, and maybe they share terminology that sounds incorrect to you, but you're not going to change that much just with a chart.
posted by dhartung at 10:12 PM on September 19, 2009

Here's the trick I learned for remembering it, by counting Gs.

jacquilynne, that is so helpful for me. I had a frustrating evening a few weeks ago where I kept reading over the Wikipedia page linked above, trying to figure out why my dad's (first) cousin and my (first) cousin's kids were both my first cousins once removed. While I got it eventually, this will be handy for those times when I don't have a chart to turn to :)
posted by vespertine at 12:36 AM on September 20, 2009

Sigblings share parents. Cousins share a grandparent. Second cousins share a great-grandparent. And so on. They are all in the same generation as you. The once removed thing is used to describe people who aren't in the same generation.

So, your mother's first cousins (they share a grandparent) are your first cousins once removed (as you are theirs). Their children are your second cousins, because your mother and her cousins' grand parent are your great grandparent.
posted by gjc at 4:35 AM on September 20, 2009

Siblings are zeroth cousins. That might help a bit with the nomenclature.

And people don't always use these words correctly. I have two "cousins" who I don't share any common ancestors with; they're my first cousin's first cousins. (I was confused when I learned this didn't make them my second cousins.)
posted by madcaptenor at 6:11 AM on September 20, 2009

If it feels weird that you use "removed" for generation distance in either direction, remember that the labels are commutative -- if it seems weird that someone a generation older than you would be your cousin once removed, just remember that you are THEIR cousin once removed too, which has the generation in the "right" direction.
posted by mendel at 1:36 PM on September 20, 2009

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