The Cousin Explainer: First, Second, Or Once Removed?

It's that time of the year again! The time for reconnecting with random relatives at the annual holiday parties and family reunions.

As we mix and mingle, chatting with long-lost relatives and unfamiliar faces, we're inevitably faced with the question: "So... what's our relationship again?"

Luckily for us, the Present Indicative has released a handy dandy Cousin Explainer Teatowel to confirm once and for all how you're related to your grandma's sister's great granddaughter.

 

"Cousin" refers to your connection to a common relation while "removed" refers to the difference in generations between you both.

To determine the degree of your cousinship, take a look at your common ancestors. Who's closest to the common ancestor? Now count the number of generations between the closest relative's parent and the common ancestor.

EXAMPLE: First Cousin Once Removed

Your first cousin's child is your first cousin once removed, since you share a common relation through your grandparent, and you are one generation apart from each other.

EXAMPLE: First Cousin Once Removed VERSION 2

However, your mom's aunt's child (aka your parent's cousin) is also your first cousin once removed, since the parents of your mom and her cousin are one generation away from a common ancestor (ie. your great grandparents), and you both are one generation removed from each other.

EXAMPLE: Second Cousin Once Removed

Your grandpa's cousin's kid is your second cousin once removed, since their parent is only two generations away from a common ancestor (while your parent is three generations away), and there's one generation difference between both of you.

EXAMPLE: Second Cousin Once Removed VERSION 2

Let's go back to that random relative from earlier.

Your grandma's sister's great granddaughter would be your second cousin once removed, since you are closest to the common ancestor, your parent is two generations away from the common ancestor, and you and your grandma's sister's great granddaughter are one generation apart.

TL;DR: For cousin, determine whose parent is closest to the common ancestor, then count the generations back. For removed, count the number of generations between you both.

Think you got it?

Good luck at your next reunion!

Photo: Tim Robbins (Mint Images)/Getty Images

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