What Is A Second Cousin, Once Removed?

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Have ever heard someone refer to a relative as a second cousin once removed? Most people are not even clear on what a second cousin is, let alone what all this 'once removed' business refers to. This video from Jared Owen does a great job of breaking down the family tree and explaining all these cousins, removed or not. But, it may be more complicated when you view it as part of a tree.

What's a Cousin, Once Removed?

Oddly enough, it's easier to start with this weird once removed stuff. To keep things simple, let's refer to your mom, but this could apply to either one of your parents. Your mom's siblings, brothers or sisters, are your uncles and aunts. Their children are your first cousins, commonly known simply as cousins.

So, your mom's brother Bob is your uncle. Uncle Bob's children are your first cousins. If one of those cousins has a child, they are your first cousin, once removed. This simply means they are one generation apart from you. If your first cousin, once removed has a child, this will be your first cousin, twice removed, and so on and so forth.

What's a Second Cousin?

Now, your mom may have cousins too. Your grandparents, your mom's parents, had siblings. Those would be your mom's uncles or aunts. To you, they would be your great uncles or great aunts. So, let's say your mom's uncle is Uncle John. This would be your Great Uncle John. Perhaps confusingly, your Great Uncle John's children are also your first cousins, once removed. So, again, the once removed part simply refers to them being a generation apart. Let's say your first cousin, removed is Susan, Great Uncle John's daughter. If Susan has a child, they are your second cousin. Again, your first cousin once removed, in this case, is the child of your great uncle (his daughter Susan).

Now, you may be able to figure out the rest. If your second cousin, the child of Susan, has a child, they are your second cousin, once removed.

Viewing all this in chart form can help to visualize the layers of separation that lead to this once removed and twice removed business, but, unless you are really into genealogy charts, you'll probably content yourself with calling any cousin who is not your first cousin, the child of your aunt or uncle, your second cousin, even though this is not technically correct.

I actually grew up thinking of my cousin Dale as my second cousin when in fact he was my first cousin, once removed. I don't think knowing this would have made any difference! We never did get along very well.

Posted on 21 Apr 2018 23:01

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