Second cousins vs first cousins once removed?

What’s the difference?

I understand the my children and my nieces and nephews are cousins. Will their children be second cousins, or first cousins once removed?

Can someone explain this in simple terms so my head doesn’t explode?

First cousins “fork” one generation after siblings; second cousins “fork” two generations after siblings, and so on.

Cousins one removed are a generation apart (e.g., your niece and your grandchildren); cousins twice removed are two generations apart (your niece and your great-grandchildren), and so on.

Your niece is first cousin to your daughter and ALL of her progeny; your grandniece is second cousin to your grandchildren and all of their progeny, but she is first cousin once removed to your daughter.

Yes, I can.

First cousins share grandparents.
Second cousins share great-grandparents.

A first cousin once removed is two people where one’s grandparent is the other’s great-grandparent.


My children and my sister’s children are first cousins.

My grandchildren and my sister’s grandchildren are second cousins.

My children and my sister’s grandchildren are FCOR.
My children and my sister’s great-grandchildren are FCTR, etc.

Zev Steinhardt

If you’re removed, you’re different generations. That means that, say, your Grandmother is his Great Grandmother, or your Great Aunt is his Aunt.

To find out what number cousins you are, you count the shortest line up to your common ancestor.

To find out how many times removed you are, you count down the lines between you.

Here’s a link to a handy chart

The “first cousin, second cousin” part represents the degree of seperation, the “once removed” part represents the generational difference.

For example:

Your children and your nieces and nephews are first cousins. For purposes of this example, I’m going to assume you have a son named Bob and a niece named Suzy.

Bob-Suzy=first cousins.

Now, Bob has a son named Bill. Suzy has a daughter named Mary.

Bill-Mary=Second cousins

Bob-Mary=Second cousins once removed.

Bill now has a son named John. Mary has a daughter named Jill.

John-Jill=Third cousins

John-Mary=Third cousins once removed.

John-Suzy=Third cousins twice removed.

If you are straight cousins, whether first, second, third, etc., you are the same generation.

In calling yourself the 'X’th cousin of Larry, you are saying that you and Larry must each go up X steps in your respective family trees to have ancestors that are siblings. If you are second cousins, you must each go up two generations to find siblings. Your grandmother and his grandmother might have been sisters.

A cousin once removed is someone one generation lower than your cousin.

Example, my father and Rich are cousins. Since I am one generation from my father, Rich and I are first cousins once removed. My daughter and Rich are first cousins twice removed.

Rich’s daughter Sue and I are second cousins. That means that I go up two generations to my grandmother, and she goes up two generations to her grandmother, and they were sisters.

I learned this about 15 years ago from a remarkable clear and consise explanation in either Dear Abby or Ann Landers. I hope I explained it half as well as she did.

In law school, I was idly talking about family heritage with another woman in school. We discovered that the first ancestor of either of us to come to the New World in 1634 was the same person - Dirk Storm (great porn star name). Turns out her uncle and my mother both were into the geneology thing, and that this woman and I are seventh cousins once removed.

*** ** [sup]footnote[/sup] None of the above is recognized in Mississippi. :wink: The way you tell your sixth cousin from your second cousin is the one who is the cutest has to be your sixth cousin. There is no such thing as “removed” unless it is used to describe married cousins. :stuck_out_tongue:

That all appears to be revisionist, to make relationships more mathematical. The original definition (as in apparently most dictionaries) is that the child of your first cousin is your second cousin. That is the same as what some people are calling first cousin once removed.

See’s definition (that’s the Ame.Her.Dic def.), or merriam-webster. Whoops, “second cousin” doesn’t seem to be in the MW collegiate online edition, and I’m not registered for the unabridged version.

Hmm…interesting, RM. I’ve always grown up (born 1975) with the definition that your cousin’s kid is your first cousin once removed, not your second cousin. First cousins shared a grandparent. Second cousins shared a great grand-parent. Third cousins a great-great-GP, and so on.

So me and cousin Mike, we both share our grampa in our lineage. His son would share our grampa as well. But there’s a generational difference, so that his kid’s great-grampa and my grampa are the same person. We share the same person in our lineage, but they’re staggered generationally. Hence all the “removed” business.

Just checked OED. OED agrees with the definitions given above. However it also states that “second cousin” can be “loosely” applied to express the relationship of you with the kin of your first cousin. It further states that the proper term is “first cousin once removed.”

I’m not sure why you think “child of a first cousin” is the older meaning, RM. I was born in 1962 and I’ve never heard it used in that sense. The American Heritage dictionary gives it as the second defination, suggesting (perhaps?) that this is either a subsidiary or a later meaning, and that the usual definition, “child of a parent’s first cousin” is the primary and older meaning.