What Does “Once Removed” Mean?

Marc McDermott
February 22, 2022

As if half cousins and cousins “in-law” weren’t mind-boggling enough, you may have noticed you have relatives who are “once removed.”

But what does once removed mean? Well, the term “removed” actually refers to the number of generations that separate two relatives. Cousins can be removed once, but also twice, etc.

To shed a little light on the fascinating world of the once-removed family, we’re about to go in-depth so you can unearth as much information as possible about your family tree.

What does once removed mean?

The removed part is a reference to the number of generations that separate the two cousins in question. So, a first cousin once removed is the child of your first cousin.

first cousin once removed

A second cousin once removed is the child of your second cousin. 

second cousin once removed

Another form of once removed cousin is the parent of your first cousin, as there is one generation between the two of you. The same goes for the parent (s) of your second cousin. 

What do you call your first cousin’s child?

The child of your cousin is your first cousin once removed. 

What is a second cousin?

A second cousin is a cousin that shares a great-grandparent with you.

second cousin

What is a second cousin once removed?

This is the great-great-grandchild of your great-grandparent.

second cousin once removed

Confused? Keep reading – it can also be the great-grandchild of your great-great-grandparent. 

second cousin once removed

Essentially, the two of you are separated by a single generation (once removed), but the closest common ancestor is one or both of your great grandparents.

To put it even simpler – a second cousin once removed is a second cousin who is one generation away from you, either older or younger. 

Second cousins are blood-related with approximately 3.125% DNA.

What is a second cousin twice removed?

A cousin who is twice removed is removed by two generations. This means they are either the grandchild or grandparent of your second cousin.

second cousin twice removed

Second cousin vs the first cousin once removed

There can be some confusion between the two so allow us to shed some light as they are very different.

A second cousin, as we have established, is someone who shares the same set of great grandparents.

So, consider your great grandparents, and the cousins who extend from them within the same generation.

Perhaps think of your grandparents’ brothers and sisters. Then, think of their grandchildren, these are your second cousins.

What is the cousin of my father to me?

The cousin of your father is your once removed cousin. It doesn’t matter if this person is a second or this cousin, they are your second or third cousin once removed. 

Final Thoughts

Once removed isn’t something a lot of people think about. But, as we hear this term frequently in genealogical terms, it is good to understand what it means. 

If you are building your family tree, then knowing the difference between once removed and second cousin is important, even if it takes a little while to get your head around it. 

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