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Cousins: What Once Removed Means
Updated on February 27, 2023
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Cousins: What Once Removed Means
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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.

“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.

Cousins: What Once Removed Means 2

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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?

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. 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 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.  

Your parent's first cousin can 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

Family relations can be tricky. If you find cousin relationships 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 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.

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

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Updated on February 27, 2023
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4 sources cited
Updated on February 27, 2023
  1. What is a second cousin?” Live Science.
  2. What is a Third Cousin?” Genealogy Explained.
  3. How Many Times Removed? Untangling Distant Family Relationships.”  MyHeritage Knowledge Base.
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.
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