What's the difference between a first cousin, once removed and a second cousin

01:00 Mon 25th Jun 2001 |

A. A perennial problem this, as almost no-one seems to know how these relationships work. So, here goes:

Second cousin = your great-aunt's/uncle's grand-child

First cousin, once removed = your first cousin's child; that is removed by one generation

Got it

Q. What are the principles by which this is worked out

A. First, second, etc. cousin: this works on a generational level. So the children of two sets of first cousins are second cousins, and the grandchildren of those same first cousins will be third cousins. First cousins have one set of common grandparents; second cousins have one set of common great-grandparents, but not grand-parents.

Removed: removed by x number of generations. So your first cousin, once removed's children will be you first cousins, twice removed. Your second cousin's children will be your second cousins, once removed.

Q. But doesn't that mean that your parents' first cousins are also first cousins once removed from you

A. Yes.

Q. Isn't that inconsistent

A. No, as it's the same distance away, just one generation back rather than one forward. Take a look at the chart below, it should give a clearer picture:

Common����� Child� Grandchild� G-grandch. G-g-grandch.


Child������������ s������ n�������������� gn����������� ggn

Grandchild���� n�������1c������������ 1c,1r������� 1c,2r

G-grandchild� gn����� 1c,1r�������� 2c����������� 2c,1r

G-g-grandch. ggn���� 1c,2r�������� 2c,1r������� 3c


s = sibling

n = nephew/niece

gn = grand-nephew/niece

ggn = great-grand-nephew/niece

1c; 2c, etc. �= 1st cousin; 2nd cousin, etc.

1c1r; 3c2r, etc. = 1st cousin, once removed;

����3rdcousin, twice removed, etc.

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By Simon Smith

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