First Cousin Once Removed Vs. Second Cousin: Understanding the Difference

first cousin once removed vs second cousin

Understanding the difference between cousins is essential to genealogy research. Cousin relationships are categorized based on how many generations back you share a common ancestor. A first cousin once removed is your parent’s first cousin or their child.

A cousin is “removed” when there is a generation gap between you and your cousin. Learn more about the different degrees of cousin relationships here:

First Cousin, Once Removed

Understanding cousinships can be confusing, especially when words like “once removed” are thrown into the mix. In genealogical terms, a cousin is anyone who shares a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, or greater-great-grandparent with you. The number of generations shared defines the level of relationship. First cousins share a common ancestor, second cousins share a common grandparent, and third cousins share a common great-grandparent.

Regarding relationships, the term “removed” indicates how far apart you are from one another in generations. The time is used with the shortest distance between you and your cousin.

When navigating the intricacies of family relationships, it’s essential to distinguish between terms like first cousin once removed vs second cousin, as each denotes a specific level of kinship and familial connection.

It is best to look at an example to understand what once removed means. Say your aunt and uncle have a child together. That child is your first cousin. If that child had a child, that child would be your first cousin once removed. That is because the child is a generation below you, making them a cousin once removed.

If that same child had a child, that child would become your first cousin twice removed. That is because the child is based on the other side of your family, making them a cousin once removed. This is because they are a generation below you but also share a common ancestor with your first cousin once removed. Usually, calling your cousins by their name is polite and proper rather than using the term once or twice removed. However, knowing the difference is essential when discussing family relationships in genealogy.

Second Cousin, Once Removed

Adding “once removed” to a cousin relation indicates a generation difference. Whether that generation gap is one or two, it still counts. A cousin “once removed” is a relative from the generation above you, while a cousin “twice removed” is from the age below you.

For example, your first cousin Sue has a child that is your first cousin once removed. This means that you and her share the same grandparents, which makes you and her first cousins. Her child is also your first cousin once removed, which makes you and her kids second cousins.

If you want to get more complicated, you can start thinking about what is known as a zero-times removed cousin. This is someone from the same generation as you, and they are also in your parents’ generation. Their parent’s sibling is your first cousin, which makes you and them first cousins. The child of this first cousin is your second cousin. The grandchild of this first cousin is your second cousin once removed, and so on. This needs to be clarified, but it is essential to understand when researching your family tree. Understanding these relationships allows you to connect with relatives that might remain a mystery. This is especially helpful when working with a distant relative like a great-uncle or -aunt.

Third Cousin Once Removed

Depending on how far back you are on your family tree, you might have more than one cousin removed from you. It’s essential to understand how this is calculated because these terms can affect a lot of DNA matches when doing genealogy.

The first step is determining how many generations apart you are from your cousin. You do this by counting the ages between you and your cousin, then subtracting one to determine how many times you are removed from that cousin. You and your cousin’s child are considered to be first cousins once removed because you share the same grandparents. If your first cousin’s child has a child of their own, you and that child are then considered first cousins twice removed because you now share the same great-grandparents.

Using these terms helps to clarify the relationship between two people. It is also an essential part of understanding how to read genealogies. These terms will help you decipher what information is being shared and might be missing from your family tree. It also adds a layer of complexity to your understanding of how different people are connected through an enduring bond across generations. Understanding this complexity is what makes family ties so unique. They are rich and diverse and provide a glimpse into the unique mix of similarities and differences that make up each family.

Fourth Cousin, Once Removed

If someone shares one of your relatives as their ancestor (grandparents, parents, great-grandparents, or grandparents), they are your cousin. But you will need to know how far back in generations this relative is, so the term “once removed” comes into play. This indicates how many generations you are removed from your cousin and, thus, how close or distant the relationship is.

When it comes to the number of times you are removed from your cousin, imagine a family tree spread out sideways with sibling relationships on top. The numbers represent generations, with first cousins being the same age, second cousins being one generation apart, third cousins two generations away, and so on.

If your first cousin has children, those are your second cousins. If your second cousins have children, those are your third cousins. The child of your first cousin is your first cousin once removed, the grandchildren are your second cousins once removed, and so on.

When you get to fourth cousins once removed, the generation gap becomes so large that most commercial ancestry tests cannot pick up on this relationship, although they may find some distant matches. The simplest way to think about fourth cousins once removed is that they are descended from a shared great-great-grandparent.