What Is A Great Cousin?

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

You may or may not think your cousins are great depending on your friendship with them and whether or not you are close, but a “great” relation has a different meaning. 

The simple answer is that “great” indicates the number of generations that separate you and another relative. The same goes for “grand” So, what is a great cousin, and how does this impact your family tree?

To help you make the most of your genealogy research, we’re going to take a closer look in this article.

Explaining great and grand

Terms like great and grand are similar to “removed” in that they can be confusing, but they don’t need to be. Great and grand are just indications of the separation of generations. “Removed” is used for cousins, and great and grand are used for grandparents and grandchildren, as well as uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews, to describe the number of generations that separates them.

So, going by the above explanation, a generation that is two generations away is described as grand or great, with additional great or grand added on with every additional generation that is removed. 

This is mainly used for grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews, and not typically used for cousins though. 

So, what is a great cousin?

A great cousin is the child of your grandparent’s sibling. It is the same thing as a first cousin once removed. It can also be the grandchild of your parent’s sibling. Either way, there is a one-generation gap between you and your great cousin.

great cousin

As mentioned, great and grand are indications of the number of generations that separate two relatives. The term is usually saved for grandparents and grandchildren, although it is possible for uncles and aunts, and niece and nephews to use the terminology as well.

If a great grandparent is someone separated by three generations. Your grandmother is two generations away from you, so your great-grandmother is three generations away. A grand-nephew is two generations removed (and is the child of your niece or nephew). A great-grand niece is three generations away from you and is the grandchild of your niece and nephew.

Still, following? Well, this means your great cousin is three generations away from you. 

Is a great cousin the same as a removed cousin?

Yes, it is. A great cousin is another way of describing a cousin once removed.

A first, second, and third cousin indicates the same number of generations that two cousins are removed from a common ancestor – most likely a grandparent. First cousins are two generations removed from their common grandparents, and second cousins are three generations removed from their grandparents. 

This is the same number of generations that describe great-grandparents, so it works for cousins.

What is a great-great cousin?

A great-great cousin is someone who is four generations removed from a common ancestor. Since a great cousin is removed by three, the additional “great” indicates an additional generation by which they are separated.

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