What Relation is My Mother’s Cousin to Me?

Baby, Grandmother, Sister, and Mom playing at the piano
Photo Lee Cullivan|CC

Confused about cousins? Cousin relationships depend on how many generations apart, and who shares which grandparents.  Here’s some tips to figure out what to call them!

What do you call your mother’s (or father’s) cousin?

Your mother’s cousin is called your first cousin, once removed.

First cousins share the same set of grandparents on either their mother’s or father’s side, while “once-removed” indicates the grandparents are from different generations.  So, your “great grandparents” are the same as your first cousin, once removed’s “grandparents”.

The term “once removed” signifies that there is one generation difference between two relatives.  Regardless of age, you are one generation later than your mother’s cousin.

Even more confusion….What do you call the child of your first cousin?

The child of your first cousin is also called your first cousin, once removed.  In this case, you are the earlier generation. Your grandparent is that child’s great-grandparent.

People can also have second, third and fourth cousins. Second cousins share a set of great-grandparents while third cousins are related through one set of great-great-grandparents.  You would add “once-removed” if you are born in separate generations, for example if your great grandparent was their great-great grandparent — second cousin, once removed.

You can keep using the “removed” terminology for every category of cousins — second cousin once removed, and so on. But by then you’ll probably drive your family completely crazy!

family relationship layer chart

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