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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Table of Contents

  1. Family Relationship Terms
  2. What does "Once Removed" really mean ?
  3. What about twins and their children?


Family Relationship Terms: 


The common family terms include: 


Siblings (brothers and sisters) who share a set of parents.


Grandparents are your parents' parents. 


First cousins are persons who share a set of grandparents (but aren't siblings).


Second cousins share a set of great-grandparents (but aren't first cousins or siblings). 


Third cousins share a set of great-great-grandparents (but aren't second cousins or siblings).

The "first", "second" and "third" indicates the number of generations you are away from a set of common grandparents. 


What does "Once Removed" really mean ?

'Removed' indicates that the two people being compared are a different number of
generations away from their common ancestor. 

The other part of the phrase, 'first cousin,' 'second cousin,' 'third cousin,' etc., describes the
relationship of two people who are/were in the same generation. 

Their is no 'removed' used for people with the same grandparents. They are simply first
cousins. Similarly, two people whose first common ancestors are the same
great-grandparents are second cousins. 

Your first cousin once removed is either: 

---- the child of your first cousin 

----- or the child of your grand-aunt/uncle 

Why are they 'removed?' 

---- Because they are in a different generation than you, when compared to the most recent ancestor that you have in common!

Americans tend to call the children of their first cousins, their own "second cousins." That is wrong.
Remember the rule about counting the number of generations to the common ancestor to see if there
are any "removeds" to add to the cousin title. In this case, the children of our first cousins are our
"first-cousins once-removed."

Note: there is a time in American History where the term "cousin" was used very loosely. A cousin was

bulletKinship to Lewis Keeling 
bulletKinship to Cipual Vines 

So, in plain English - Your children and your first cousin's children would be second cousins. 

For example, if you were descended from a brother or sister of Cipual Vines or Lewis Keeling, then you would be a great, great,......,great nephew or neice of Cipual or Lewis. If you descended from a first cousin of Cipual or Lewis, you would be Cipual's or Lewis' first cousin, many, many times removed. 

This is pretty confusing past a few generations and is probably why people just called themselves cousins.  Or more appropriately, as Al Runnels in Hooks, Texas says - "Kinfolk."

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What about twins and their children?

Interesting subject!! As we have all heard there are 2 types of twins - identical and fraternal.  Identical twins share an exact set of genes.  Fraternal Twins are just like other siblings, except they share the same age in the family. 

When Identical Twins have children, their children are really half-siblings. They could also be called cousins, but genetically, they are half-siblings.  

When one set of Identical Twins marry another set of Identical Twins, their children are full siblings.  But let's just call them "kinfolk." 

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Charles L. Vines
Family Historian and Geneologist 
Revised: September 15, 2008 .