Admit it: You don’t know what it means either.
If you’re like us, hearing someone introduced as your “second cousin, twice removed” or “second cousin, thrice removed” goes completely over your head. They’re your cousin, sure, but they may or may not be blood-related or maybe they are but only on your dad’s side? Who really knows?
Now you will finally know, thanks to this handy chart, which maps out all those puzzling family labels. If you’re still a tad confused, we got you covered. You’ll find brief explanations underneath this chart. (Trust us: This will be a lifesaver the next time Thanksgiving rolls around, and those long-lost cousins make an appearance.)
They share the same grandparents; they’re the children of siblings.
They share the same great-grandparents; they’re the children of first cousins.
They share the same great-great-grandparents; they’re the children of second cousins.
Quick cousin tip
First, second, and third cousins (and so on) are an equal number of generations removed from the common ancestor. First cousins are both two generations removed from their shared grandparents; second cousins are three generations removed from shared great-grandparents.
Used when there’s a one-generation gap. Your first cousin, once removed is either your parent’s first cousin or the reverse—your first cousin’s child.
Indicates a two-generation gap: Your first cousin, twice removed would be either your grandparent’s first cousin, or the reverse—the grandchild of your first cousin.
Indicates a two-generation gap in both grandparent/grandchild relationships and aunt/uncle, niece/nephew relationships. A grandmother is two generations away from you—your parents’ parents. Your grand-nephew is the child of your niece or nephew. Exception: Your parents’ aunts and uncles (a two-generation gap) are often referred to as great-aunts or -uncles.
Indicates a three-generation gap: Your great-grandchild is your grandchildren’s child. Your great-grandfather is three generations away. Your great grand-niece is the grandchild of a niece or nephew. Exception: Your parents’ aunts and uncles (a two-generation gap) are often referred to as great aunts or uncles.