You know you are related because you’ve been sitting around the same holiday table for years... but how? What’s a second cousin or a third cousin twice removed anyways? Read on to clear up cousin confusion and download our handy cousin calculator.
This time of year, I frequently get asked: “how are we related?” I’m here to help you tackle your holiday gatherings with confidence this year. Read on and I’ll clear up the confusing cousin terminology and give you a handy chart you can use to calculate every one’s cousinhood at the table. Be ready to dazzle ALL your cousins and grand-parents this holiday season.
You probably know that the children of your aunt and uncle are your cousins. But much past that, and the cousin relationship can get confusing. Learn the cousin lingo and clear up the cousin confusion.
Your first cousins are the children of your parents’ brothers and sisters, AKA your aunts and uncles. Cousins share a set of grandparents.
Your second cousins are the children of your parents’ cousins. Second cousins share a great-grandparent.
Your third cousins are the children of your parents’ second cousins. Third cousins share at least one great-great-grandparent.
"Removed" is used when two persons share a set of ancestors but are not the same number of generations in descent from those ancestors.
A 1964 Movie starring Elvis Presley? An overly friendly cousin? Well, yes and more. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “kissing cousin” is defined as:
1: one that is closely related in kind to something else
2. a person and especially a relative whom one knows well enough to kiss more or less formally upon meeting.
Good news! You don’t need math to figure out if Great Aunt Sandy’s kids are your kid’s fourth cousins or third cousins once removed. However, for a true "relationship" to exist, there must be a common ancestor shared by both relatives.
Download this incredibly handy Cousinhood Chart to determine the degree of cousinhood between two relatives.
Identify the most recent ancestor the two relatives share and how that ancestor is related to both individuals.
In the top row, locate the relationship of the 1st person to the common ancestor.
In the first column, locate the relationship of the 2nd person to the common ancestor.
Follow down and across to where these rows and columns intersect to determine cousin relationship.
Still, scratching your head? Here are some examples from recent “how are we related” inquiries I’ve received.
“How is my great-grandson related to my sister’s grandson?”
First, determine the most recent ancestor they share in common and how that ancestor is related to each to both individuals. In this case, the common ancestors are your parents.
For your great-grandson, the common ancestor is their 2nd Grandparent. Locate that in row one.
For your sister’s grandson, the common ancestor is their great-grandparent. Locate that in column one.
Follow down and across to where these rows and columns intersect. Your great-grandson and your sister’s grandson are second cousins once removed.
“I recently met a distant relative and they are coming to visit. Our grandparents Ruth and Beth were sisters. We don’t know how to explain to our small children just how they are related? We aren’t even sure how to describe how we are related?”
First, identify the most recent ancestor both your children share and how they are related. In this case they share @x Great-Grandparents (Ruth and Beth’s parents).
In row one, located 2nd Great-Grandparent to describe your children relationship to the common ancestor.
In column one, locate 2nd Great-Grandparent to describe your distant relative’s children’s relationship to their shared common ancestor.
Follow down and across to where these rows and columns intersect. Your children are third cousins.
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