Relatives, Once Removed

In Chinese, I would greet my parent’s cousins as “aunt” or “uncle”. A direct translation would be a misnomer. I found out that the appropriate geneological title is “first cousin, once removed.” I think “aunt” and “uncle” is easier.

I was recapping my trip to the Bay Area yesterday with Kelly, the VP’s assistant. I told her that I really enjoyed seeing my “little uncles” again. I explained why I refer to them as “little,” (younger than me, but they’re technically – in Chinese – my uncles). When she insisted that they are actually my cousins, I searched the Internet to determine the exact terminology. Doing a general search, I came upon how to determine a first/second cousin and what a “first cousin, once removed” meant.

Cousin (a.k.a “first cousin”)
Your first cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts and uncles.

Second Cousin
Your second cousins are the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you., but not the same grandparents.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins
Your third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents, fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents, and so on.

When the word “removed” is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word “removed” is not used to describe your relationship.

The words “once removed” mean that there is a difference of one generation. For example, your mother’s first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mother’s first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference equals “once removed.”

Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother’s first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.

I am surprised that I have been referring to Tony & Kevin incorrectly (in English) all these years. Well, there are always inaccuracies in direct translations.

Join the Conversation


    1. All My Cousins

      My so-called “little uncles” are to the right of me in this picture. The one who’s almost as tall as me with the blue, open short-sleeved dress shirt is Tony. The kid in the black T-shirt next to him is Kevin, his younger brother. Kevin is taller than Tony, now.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: