What Is a “second Cousin After Removal”? Let’s Explain
Want to be the most popular person at your next family event? Be the person who can explain the difference between “first cousins once removed” and “second cousins twice removed” and your family will see you as a genius, oracle, armchair genealogist that they are proud of. to be bound by blood. Here’s how to determine how close you are to all of your cousins.
The above handy diagram from Nathan Yau of Flowing Data makes it easy to define relationships. Here’s an explanation of how the diagram works:
Find out a common ancestor between two relatives. Then select the first relation to this ancestor in the top row and follow down until you match with another family member. The result is how the first relates to the second.
Or, if you prefer, here’s a handy glossary of related terms.
Your cousins are people with whom you have a common ancestor, and the most recent common ancestor you share is at least two generations away. This distinguishes them from, say, your brothers and sisters, who are people with whom you have common ancestors who are one generation away from you; these common ancestors are your parents.
Your cousins are the children of your aunt and uncle. Cousins have a common grandparent (i.e., your grandparents are two generations away from you and your cousins).
Second cousins have a common great-grandfather and are the children of first cousins. So, the children of your father’s cousin are your second cousins.
Second cousins share a great-great-grandfather and are children of second cousins. The children of your father’s second cousin are your second cousins. Do you feel the pattern here? Four European cousins share great-great-great-grandparents and so on.
If you are “distant” from your cousin, then you belong to different generations. If you were “once removed” from your cousin, it means that you are one generation apart. Your father’s cousin is your cousin after removal. Your cousin’s daughter is also your first cousin after being removed.
If you have been “removed twice” from your cousin, you are two generations apart. Your grandmother’s cousin is your cousin, twice retired. Your cousin’s granddaughter is also your double-deleted cousin.
This article was originally published in November 2014 and was updated on December 4, 2020 to include a revised chart, additional attribution, and clearer and more detailed information.