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What is a cousin? How I am related? What is a 2nd cousin once removed?.

 

These are just some of the questions we all ask when looking at genealogy and trying to explain family history to others.

Basically, a cousin is a relative who shares a common ancestor with you. Today we use the term cousin generally and apply it across the board without knowing it's specific meaning, swapping 1st and 2nd cousins and ignoring the removed altogether. I have created a cousin relationship chart which shows the relationships between yourself and your family but here are some basic rules to follow, should you find your family tree confusing.

  • The degree (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) describes the number of generations back to a common ancestor. For example, 1st cousins share Grand-parents, 2nd cousins share Great-Grand-parents.

  • The removed part describes the difference in generations between yourself and your ancestor. For example, the children of your 1st cousins are 1st cousins once removed.

  • If you only share one parent, you are a half-sibling. If two half siblings have children, they are half-1st cousins. These terms are rarely used outside of half-sibling though.

  • Step-children occur when adults marry and one or both adults have existing children. These children would be step-siblings to each other. Their children would be step-1st cousins but as with half-1st cousins, these terms are rarely used.

  • Cousins from different sides of the family (for example, maternal 3rd cousin and a paternal 4th cousin) are not related. They may both be 3rd cousins or 4th cousins to you but have no connection other than that.

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