What Does “Once Removed” Mean?

Marc McDermott
First Published: | Updated: April 2, 2024

Navigating family relationships can be a complex endeavor, especially when terms like “once removed” come into play. This article will explore the meaning of various familial connections, starting with the definition of “what does once removed mean” in the context of cousins.

It will further delve into distinctions between second cousins, first cousins once or twice removed, and even help you understand your relationship to your first cousin’s child.

What does once removed mean?

The term ‘once removed’ in familial relationships refers to a difference of one generation. For instance, your first cousin’s child is your first cousin once removed, as there is a generation gap between you. Similarly, your dad’s first cousin is also your first cousin once removed because there is a generation separating you. “Once removed” denotes a generational step away from the direct cousin relationship, either above or below your generation.

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 is a second cousin once removed?

A second cousin once removed is either the child of your second cousin or the second cousin of your parent.

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 second cousin twice removed is removed by two generation, meaning 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 third cousin, they are your second or third cousin once removed. 

What do you call your first cousin’s child?

The child of your cousin is your first 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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