What is a cousin

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[this article series is by Carson Turner and specifically copywritten]

Confusion abounds over "what is a 1st cousin twice removed" and "why is that not a second cousin".  This issue eluded me for many years until someone explained it to me as simply as it really is...

"Cousins" is about shared grandparents.  1st cousins share the same grandparent.  2nd cousins share the same great-grandparent.  3rd cousins share the same great-great grandparent.  Etc...

When I learned that, a bell went "ding!" -- now that part made perfect sense but what about this "once and twice removed" thing...?

"Once removed" simply means that the cousins are separated by a generation.  Your grandparent is the great-grandparent of your 1st cousin - once removed.  

Simply put - the children of your first cousin are your "first cousins once removed" -- they are not your second cousin because you do not share a common great-grandparent.  The grandchildren of your first cousin are your "1st cousins twice removed".  They are descendants of your grandparent and thus your first cousin but, they are generationally separated from you by two generations -- their great-great grandparent is your grandparent...

The children of your first cousin once removed are the second cousins of your own children because they share a common great-grandparent.  Have you met your own second cousins yet?  They are your kin and one of them might have great-great grandmothers bible...

in relation to you...

  aunt/uncle   parent  
1st cousin       you
1st cousin once removed        
1st cousin twice removed        


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last edited on Tuesday, August 13, 2002
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