Remembering the difference between a “second cousin” and a “cousin once removed” is one of those facts that I have filed away in my brain as non-essential. I think I know the difference, but then I get fuzzy on the details.
Luckily I now have a handy chart to bookmark in my web browser so that I never forget again.
You’ll find it useful, too, especially if you’ve been invited to a family reunion this summer.
This chart was designed by Alice J. Ramsey in 1987, but her advice still stands today.
Here’s how to use the chart: Start from the “Self” box, and then trace your way to the relationship you are trying to name.
Remembering what my mom’s cousin’s children are in relation to me is always a tricky one for me. Using this chart, I can see that they are my second cousins. And their kids? My second cousins once removed. Their kids? Second cousins twice removed.
Once Removed—What Does It Mean?
This chart gives us a visual depiction of what “once removed” really means. It’s easy to see that you and all of your cousins—even those second and third cousins—are in the same generation. But when you get into different generations, that’s when it comes “once” or “twice” removed—what that really means is one generation removed, according to the chart.
“For example, your mother’s first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mother’s first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents, ” according to an article on Genealogy. “This one-generation difference equals ‘once removed.’ Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother’s first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.”
Once you get your brain to stop spinning, just look at the chart. It will help you understand.
So there you have it. You’ll never be cousin-confused again—or if you are, just refer to them all as cousins and call it a day!
Why Are We So Interested In Our Roots?
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