The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 06-18-2009, 07:59 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
What relationship is your brother-in-law's wife to you?

Is there a name for it? Cause "brother-in-law's wife" is really really long. Is she your sister-in-law?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 06-18-2009, 08:16 AM
jonbvn jonbvn is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
Is there a name for it? Cause "brother-in-law's wife" is really really long. Is she your sister-in-law?
Could be your sister also?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06-18-2009, 08:24 AM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA
Posts: 9,776
Assuming you mean the wife of your spouse's brother. She is your spouse's sister-in-law. There is no simple term to describe her relationship to you. I suppose you could refer to her as your sister-in-law even though that's not really correct.

"Brother-in-law's wife" is not really all that long

(My wife had a relative visiting us a few weeks ago and she called her her niece. When I asked how she was related, it took a couple of minutes to explain it all. She wasn't really her niece, and the relationship jumped across two marriages, etc.)
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06-18-2009, 08:52 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: A better place to be
Posts: 26,718
Technically there is no lrgal relationship. In many areas, however, two couples of wshich one spouse each are siblings regard each other as in-laws, so that Sam, who is married to Mary, who is Jane's sister, regards Jane's husband Bill as his brother-in-law, even though there is no legal connection.

I did a doubletake at jonbvn's post, thinking at first he was speaking of the couples comprised of siblings phenomenon: Bill and Bob, who area brothers, marry sisters Sally and Sue respaectively, so that both aunt and uncle are blood realatives to the children of either couple (who are themselves double cousins to the children of the other couple). Then I realized he was pointing out that a 'brother-in-law' may be descriptive of your sister's husband.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06-18-2009, 08:58 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 30,886
I believe the term you are looking for is "none".
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 06-18-2009, 08:58 AM
I, of the Tiger I, of the Tiger is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
I still call that one sister-in-law. Because you share the same parents-in-law. I don't regard my interpretation as more or less valid than anyone elses because, ironically, there is no law about it. But it makes sense to me, having attended family gatherings with several of those relationships present.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 06-18-2009, 09:05 AM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 6,649
In my family, a brother-in-law's wife is called a sister-in-law. You could refer to a visit by the couple as "My brother- and sister-in-law came over for dinner on Friday night", although it's really hard to vocalise that hanging hyphen. XD
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 06-18-2009, 09:09 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
I love English but we really need to steal some more words from other languages, especially relationships. In Hindi your husband's elder brother is your "Jhet", and his wife is your "Jhetani"; his younger brother is your "Devur", and his wife is "Devrani".

Come on, English! I'm sure we can beat up some language and steal their words!


The thing is, too, is there is a relationship, even if there is no "real" one - there are only two sons, and (presumably) there are only two daughters-in-law - me and her. So there should be something. Jhetani!
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 06-18-2009, 09:10 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
In Spanish we call that "concuñada"; a poll taken by a bunch of Hispanics asking Anglos in Miami brought up that there doesn't seem to be a specific term in English.





Spouses are cónyuges; parents-in-law are suegros and parents of spouses are consuegros; siblings-in-law are cuñados and siblings of spouses are concuñados - the "con" means "with."
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 06-18-2009, 09:19 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 9,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
...parents-in-law are suegros and parents of spouses are consuegros...
?? The parent of my spouse is my parent-in-law - that's the definition. I don't follow the distinction you're making here.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 06-18-2009, 09:36 AM
bordelond bordelond is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by I, of the Tiger View Post
I still call that one sister-in-law. Because you share the same parents-in-law. I don't regard my interpretation as more or less valid than anyone elses because, ironically, there is no law about it. But it makes sense to me, having attended family gatherings with several of those relationships present.
I do this, too ... at least around here, it's common usage.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 06-18-2009, 09:42 AM
Kimmy_Gibbler Kimmy_Gibbler is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
I love English but we really need to steal some more words from other languages, especially relationships. In Hindi your husband's elder brother is your "Jhet", and his wife is your "Jhetani"; his younger brother is your "Devur", and his wife is "Devrani".

Come on, English! I'm sure we can beat up some language and steal their words!


The thing is, too, is there is a relationship, even if there is no "real" one - there are only two sons, and (presumably) there are only two daughters-in-law - me and her. So there should be something. Jhetani!
It's not so much a linguistic phenomenon as it is a sociological or anthropological one. Evidently, there are six basic systems. English speakers use "Eskimo kinship."

Last edited by Kimmy_Gibbler; 06-18-2009 at 09:43 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 06-18-2009, 09:43 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 58,797
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
?? The parent of my spouse is my parent-in-law - that's the definition. I don't follow the distinction you're making here.
I'm pretty sure she meant to say "spouses of parents," not "parents of spouses."
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 06-18-2009, 10:20 AM
unclelem unclelem is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Or, you can change frame of reference (which happens when you have children) and just say (the kids')"Aunt Kathy".
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 06-18-2009, 11:55 AM
Mops Mops is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,468
FWIW I looked up possible English translations for the German equivalent term Schwippschwager (n,m)/Schwippschwägerin (n,f) [this term covers a sibling's spouse's sibling as well as a spouse's sibling's spouse] but the German-English dictionaries I consulted only had circumlocutions, so this also argues for there being no English term.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 06-18-2009, 11:56 AM
Sapo Sapo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
?? The parent of my spouse is my parent-in-law - that's the definition. I don't follow the distinction you're making here.
If you and I marry, my parents and your parents are "consuegros" to each other.
__________________
but I digress
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 06-18-2009, 11:58 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 9,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sapo View Post
If you and I marry, my parents and your parents are "consuegros" to each other.
Ah, thank you. The "to each other" is what I didn't grasp.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 06-18-2009, 12:07 PM
Beadalin Beadalin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Another vote for sister-in-law.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 06-18-2009, 12:12 PM
redtail23 redtail23 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 2,926
English doesn't even have words to differentiate my sister's husband (brother-in-law) from my spouse's brother (brother-in-law).

As far as I've ever known, my brother-in-law's wife is my sister-in-law. Well, unless she's my sister, obviously.

I don't follow why some of you think the sibling-in-law terminology *wouldn't* apply to a spouse's sibling's spouse, when it's obviously not a specific term to start with. As far as I can find definitions, it means "someone you're related to by marriage", which would definitely include this relationship.

I vote with Anaamika. We need to go mug some other language for more specific English vocabulary. We could still keep the current words for those times when you want to be more general.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 06-18-2009, 12:28 PM
Yllaria Yllaria is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Stockton
Posts: 8,126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sapo View Post
If you and I marry, my parents and your parents are "consuegros" to each other.
Lovely! I've been wanting a word for that. Once or twice I've toyed with the term cross-laws, but I like the feeling of "with" better.

As to the general relatives of my in-laws thing, sometimes I use the term out-laws. People humor me. Sometimes to the point of patting me on the head.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 06-18-2009, 12:54 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 26,996
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
?? The parent of my spouse is my parent-in-law - that's the definition. I don't follow the distinction you're making here.
John Doe and Jane Roe get married. What's the relationship between Papa and Mama Doe and Papa and Mama Roe? That's what's being talked about.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 06-18-2009, 01:07 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Toadspittle Hill
Posts: 6,075
My sibs and respective spouses have discussed this in the past. We thought "out-law" or "by-law" would be better than "in-law" in these cases.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 06-18-2009, 01:12 PM
Spiff Spiff is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: In the SPIFF Bunker
Posts: 2,606
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
Come on, English! I'm sure we can beat up some language and steal their words!
I vote for Italian, because their words are so melodic.

Plus, we can steal some cannoli while we're at it!
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 06-18-2009, 01:21 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: 地球
Posts: 22,113
I always say my sister-in-law's brother and I are "nothing by marriage."
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 06-18-2009, 01:44 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
Outlaw sister.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 06-18-2009, 02:07 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
Pseudolegal
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Southern California
Posts: 8,038
I got confused when my mother-in-law re-married. Does anyone actually use the term "stepfather-in-law"?
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 06-18-2009, 10:06 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
Is there a name for it? Cause "brother-in-law's wife" is really really long. Is she your sister-in-law?
She's your sister.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 06-18-2009, 10:55 PM
OldGuy OldGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Very east of Foggybog, WI
Posts: 2,917
In jest in my family, we sometimes call that relationship sister-in-law-in-law.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 06-18-2009, 11:18 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
Mod Rocker
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 36,542
Quote:
Originally Posted by toadspittle View Post
My sibs and respective spouses have discussed this in the past. We thought "out-law" or "by-law" would be better than "in-law" in these cases.
My brother-in-law's wife and I call each other "the out-laws." (We called my sister-in-law's ex-husband "the jerk.")
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 06-18-2009, 11:51 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
I just call 'em all sister-in-law.

I have 3, plus 3 SIL's on my side. That makes one Jhetani and two Devrani--what do I call my younger brothers' wives? I haven't got an older brother, or I could collect them all.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 06-19-2009, 12:46 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 55,194
While we're at it, does anyone other than my extended family have a term for one's cousin's cousins on the other side? Like, Alice and Bob are siblings, and Carol and Dave are siblings. If Bob and Carol marry, then their kids will be cousins to both Alice's kids and Dave's kids. But what's the word (if any) for the relationship between Alice's kids and Dave's kids?
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 06-19-2009, 01:17 AM
guizot guizot is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: An East Hollywood dingbat
Posts: 6,340
Korean has about eight different terms for siblings depending on whether the sibling is older or younger than the speaker, and whether the speaker is male or female. It also has two ways to say "uncle," one of which can simply mean "middle-aged older man." There also are two ways to say "aunt," whether she is maternal or paternal.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 06-19-2009, 01:39 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
So what relation is your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate?
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 06-19-2009, 05:18 AM
HazelNutCoffee HazelNutCoffee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by guizot View Post
Korean has about eight different terms for siblings depending on whether the sibling is older or younger than the speaker, and whether the speaker is male or female. It also has two ways to say "uncle," one of which can simply mean "middle-aged older man." There also are two ways to say "aunt," whether she is maternal or paternal.
Actually it's much more specfic than that. Korean differentiates between aunts and uncles by blood and aunts and uncles by marriage, as well as by whether they are paternal or maternal. Also between your father's brothers that are older than him and younger than him, and whether they are married or not.

For example, my mom's brother I call weh-sam-chon but my mom's sister's husband I call ee-mo-bu and my dad's older brother I call keun-ah-bba but his little brother I call jak-eun-ah-bba (but sam-chon before he got married) and his sister's husband I call go-mo-bu. In English I would call them all "uncle."
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 06-19-2009, 08:35 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by dangermom View Post
I just call 'em all sister-in-law.

I have 3, plus 3 SIL's on my side. That makes one Jhetani and two Devrani--what do I call my younger brothers' wives? I haven't got an older brother, or I could collect them all.
Brother's wives are "Bhabi". Either you have "Badi* Bhabi" which is an older brother's wife or "Choti Bhabi", younger brother's wife.

*The d signifies the rolled heavy r in Hindi dialect.

And your kids? They call your brothers "Mama" (mother's brother) and their wives "Mami". Your brother's kids are your kids siblings, though - we don't really differentiate for cousins. Their kids are your "bhanja" for a boy and "bhanji" for a girl.

I could go on. Your kids are a different word for your brothers; "bhatija-bhatiji". That way we know exactly, it's your brother/sister's son/daughter. Very specific and the way it should be IMO.

I'm cool with stealing from Italian. It has a certain je ne sais quois. But really I don't care where we grab it from. Hindi has plenty of words to steal form.

Hazel, Mandarin Chinese is like that too.


ETA: One more thing - yeah, we have a word for what the parents-in-law are to each other, too. "Samdhi" and "Samdhan".

Last edited by Anaamika; 06-19-2009 at 08:36 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 06-19-2009, 08:46 AM
dangermom dangermom is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
OK, so I have three Choti Bhabi. Excellent.

My kids will be thrilled to hear that they have so many siblings--they want to live with their cousins anyway.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 06-19-2009, 10:45 AM
Serenata67 Serenata67 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2009
Crazy bitch.

Oh, wait! You're not talking about my brother in law's wife specificially!
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 06-19-2009, 01:07 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 55,194
Quote:
So what relation is your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate?
Absolutely nothing!
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 06-19-2009, 06:15 PM
Mangosteen Mangosteen is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Never knew what "twice removed, etc." meant. Till now. Any other languages use this?

http://www.genealogy.com/16_cousn.html
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 06-19-2009, 07:07 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
We say outlaw too, but not in a serious way, obviously. We're quite good friends with my partner's sister's husband's brother, and he's the outlaw that we use that term for most often.

Of course, I refer to my partner's family as my inlaws despite us not being married, so it's not as if we're abiding by technically correct nomenclature anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilTOJ View Post
So what relation is your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Absolutely nothing!
Which is what you will be soon!

Damn you, EvilTOJ - I opened this thread specifically to use that quote.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 06-19-2009, 07:32 PM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 6,649
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
While we're at it, does anyone other than my extended family have a term for one's cousin's cousins on the other side? Like, Alice and Bob are siblings, and Carol and Dave are siblings. If Bob and Carol marry, then their kids will be cousins to both Alice's kids and Dave's kids. But what's the word (if any) for the relationship between Alice's kids and Dave's kids?
I just say "cousin's cousin". What's your family's word for it?
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 06-20-2009, 12:20 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 55,194
Quote:
I just say "cousin's cousin". What's your family's word for it?
We call them "Turkey Cousins", largely because the group of such cousins to which we're closest are a bunch of turkeys. It's a surprisingly useful term. Then again, my extended family is large enough that being able to keep track of relationships is a survival trait.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 06-20-2009, 01:17 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Second Stone View Post
Outlaw sister.
My mother used this term with the similar "relations" on my dad's side of the family, that they were the "outlaws." I default to "____-in-law" when it doesn't matter if I distinguish the lack of blood relation.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 06-20-2009, 01:33 PM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
...parents-in-law are suegros and parents of spouses are consuegros...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
?? The parent of my spouse is my parent-in-law - that's the definition. I don't follow the distinction you're making here.
My mother is my sister-in-law's suegra; SiL's-Mom is my brother's suegra. Mom and SiL's-Mom are each other's consuegras.





In my father's family, anybody who's joined the clan by marriage is referred to as "los agregados a la banda," lit. "those who have been added to the band." That means my mother, her parents and sister, my uncles' wifes, my paternal aunt's husband... cos yeah, they're part of the clan but there's some things those born to the clan do which leave "the added ones" scratching their heads in confusion no matter how long it's been since they got added.

Last edited by Nava; 06-20-2009 at 01:37 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 06-20-2009, 01:59 PM
yojimbo yojimbo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 9,302
I would say "sister-in-law by marriage" indicating that you have no direct blood family ties to the relationship.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 06-21-2009, 01:21 AM
movingfinger movingfinger is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
This is why the term "shirt-tail relative" was invented.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:34 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.