What Is A First Cousin, Twice Removed

Submitted by George Mason

If someone walked up to you and said, Howdy, I’m your third cousin, twice  removed, would you have any idea what they meant? Most people have a good  understanding of basic relationship works such as Mother, Father, Aunt,  Uncle, Brother, and Sister, but what about the relationship terms we don’t  use in everyday speech? Terms like second cousin and first cousin, once  removed? We don’t tend to speak about our relationships in such exact terms  (cousin seems good enough when you are introducing one person to another), so  most of us aren’t familiar with what these words mean.

Relationship Terms

Sometimes, especially when working on a family history, it is handy to know how  to describe your family relationships more exactly. The definitions below should  help you out.


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 Cousins

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

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins

Your third cousins have the same great-great grandparents, fourth cousins have  the same great-great-great grandparents, etc.


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  from the same generation, so the term removed is not used to describe your  relationship.

Your mothers first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because  your mothers first cousin is from an earlier generation the 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  grandmothers first cousins are first cousins, twice removed.

Relationship Charts Simplify Everything

The chart below will help you find the relationship between two individuals. To  use this chart

  1. Pick two people in your family and figure out which ancestor they have in  common.
    For example, if you choose yourself and a cousin, you would have a  grandparent in common.
  2. Look at the top row of the chart and find the first persons relationship to the  common ancestor.
  3. Look at the far left column of the chart and find the second persons  relationship to the common ancestor.
  4. Determine when the row and column containing those two relationships meet.
Relationship Chart



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