What Does Once Removed Mean When Describing Cousins?
Updated on March 18, 2024
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What Does Once Removed Mean When Describing Cousins?
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What Does Once Removed Mean When Describing Cousins?

The term “removed” describes two relatives who belong to a different generation. You can’t use it to describe a first cousin since you belong to the same generation.

It can be confusing to navigate family relationships and the complicated terminology, but “once removed” denotes a difference of one generation above or below you. For example, your father’s first cousin is your first cousin once removed since you’re separated by one generation.

In this family history chart, you can see where your first cousins, once removed, would be.

What Does Once Removed Mean When Describing Cousins? 2

You can easily determine your cousins and even your ancestors’ origins through DNA testing, which may give you more information about any DNA match you’re related to.

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What Is A Cousin Once Removed?

A cousin once removed means you share grandparents, but one generation separates you from them. They can be from an age group older than you or a generation below you.

So is My Cousin’s Child My Cousin Once Removed?

Yes, because a generation separates you.

Your parent’s first cousin can also be your first cousin once removed. You can also call their children your first cousin once removed since you are a generation older than them. 

Each generation follows this pattern. A first cousin once removed can be your first cousin’s offspring or your second cousin’s parent.

What Is A Second Cousin Once Removed?

A second cousin once removed is a cousin with whom you share a set of great-grandparents. However, you’ll be separated by one generation.

They may be the great-great-grandchild of your great-grandparent. An example would be your second cousin’s child.

You can also be the second cousin once removed of your parent’s second cousin. In this case, you both share a great-great-grandparent, and there is a generation between you. 

What Is A Third Cousin Once Removed?

A third cousin once removed means you share a set of great-great-grandparents. But they are a generation younger or older than you.

An example of a third cousin once removed would be your third cousin’s children. While you don’t belong to the same generation, they are still your distant cousins.2

Understanding Cousin Relationships and Distant Relatives

Understanding familial relationships can be tricky. If you find cousin relationships and extended family structures a little confusing to take in, here’s a simple breakdown of the terms:  

  • Cousins are non-siblings who share common ancestors
  • First cousins share grandparents
  • Second cousins share great-grandparents
  • Third cousins share great-great-grandparents

As for removed cousins, your parent’s cousins are also your cousins, but once removed. Once removed simply means that you and your cousin have a shared ancestor one generation back.

Using DNA tests and family tree builders is an easier way to track everyone on your family tree. You can get these services to plot your family members in one place, whether they’re distant and not-so-distant cousins.

You can also find free kinship or centimorgan calculators online. They can help you calculate the relationship between you and a relative.

What Is A Cousin?

Cousins are family members with a common ancestor who is older by two generations or more.

The terms used to describe cousin relationships—first, second, third, and so on—indicate the number of generations between your parents and your closest common ancestor.

You and your cousins usually belong to the same generation and are not direct siblings. You may share grandparents and some great-grandparents.

What Is A First Cousin?

It can be confusing to determine the difference between cousins, but a first cousin is the child of a parent’s sibling, like your mother’s sister or brother. This includes the children of your biological uncles or aunts.

The nearest common ancestor you’ll share with a first cousin is your grandparents.

First cousins are among the easiest to track if you’re building a family tree, which can be done with genetic tests. They are your closest relatives next to your siblings.

What Is A Second Cousin?

A second cousin is a relative with whom you share great-grandparents. You belong to the same generation, but your common ancestor is three generations away from you.1 

The offspring of first cousins are second cousins. For example, the children of your mother’s first cousin are your second cousins.

Another example of your second cousin is the grandchild of your grandparent’s sibling. You may not be closely related, but you’ll belong to the same age group.

What Is A Third Cousin?

A third cousin is a family member with whom you share a set of great-great-grandparents. It’s because your great-grandparent is the direct sibling of your third cousin’s great-grandparent.

In most families, your third cousin is the great-grandchild of your great-great-uncle or great-great aunt. The children of your parents’ second cousins are also third cousins.

Your great-grandparent is a direct sibling of your third cousin’s great-grandparent. This means that you and your third cousins share great-great-grandparents.

What’s the Difference Between a Cousin and a Relative?

While a cousin is a relative, a relative is not always a cousin. A relative is anyone related to you, whether through birth or marriage. A cousin is a family member that shares a common, older ancestor with you.

For example, your cousin could be your uncle’s child or your great aunt’s child.

So your cousins are your relatives because they are related to you by blood, but not all relatives are cousins. Your relatives can also be your aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.

What’s the Difference Between a Cousin and a Niece or Nephew?

Cousins share an older ancestor with you, while nieces and nephews are the children of siblings.

So any children that your siblings have become your niece or nephew because they are of a generation after you.

How Common is Cousin Marriage?

Cousin marriages were more common back then before genetic data backed up that incestuous relations could lead to higher chances of diseases and defects.

Now, because of several states outlawing cousins marrying, it isn’t as common. Still, there are about 20 states that allow it.

In many states, marrying your first cousin is illegal and sometimes even a felony or criminal offense. Second cousins are mostly allowed to marry legally despite their common ancestry–they’re considered far enough apart to potentially avoid defects.4

Each state has a different law when it comes to cousin marriage, and different cultures can have different attitudes towards it.

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Updated on March 18, 2024
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Updated on March 18, 2024
Cristine Santander
Cristine Santander
Content Contributor
Cristine Santander is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. She has a B.S. in Psychology and enjoys writing about health and wellness.