What is a Second Cousin, Anyway?

Hey cousin?!? Cousin relationships can be confusing, particularly when you move across a complicated family tree. So what is a second cousin anyway?  Check out our family tree chart to find out!

All cousins — first cousins, second cousins, third cousins, etc — are on the same level of your family tree. Children of your parents’ first cousins are your second cousins.

Who are Second Cousins?

The simple answer: Children with the same set of great grandparents are second cousins.  This means they are on the same generational level of the family tree.

So all the great grandchildren of your great grandparents are second cousins to you, similarly, great-great grandchildren of your great-great grandparents would be third cousins to you.

A good way to remember this is that cousins are on the same generational level of the family tree — with first, second, third, etc. indicating how many generations UP the family tree they share a common set of grandparents.

Another Definition of Second Cousin

Cousins do not share a parent, nor any first generation relative.  That would make them siblings, or aunts/uncles, or nieces/nephews.

Cousins share a common ancestor at least two or more generations up the family tree.  This means they share common grandparents, great grandparents, great-great grandparents, etc.

“Removed” cousins are separated by generational levels, whereas true cousins are not.