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Who Is Your Second Cousin & How Are They Related To You?

Your second cousin is the child of your parent’s first cousin. In other words, they are the child of your parent’s cousin. Still confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people just shrug when asked about cousin terminology. Keep reading to learn everything about second cousins, removed cousins, and more.

What Is A Cousin?

A cousin is a blood relative you share a common ancestor with, but is not your sibling or direct descendant. Your cousin is your aunt or uncle’s child and your common ancestor is your grandparents. 

cousins relative

What Is A Second Cousin?

A second cousin is a blood relative who shares a common great-grandparent with you – so they could be the child of your parent’s cousin or the cousin of one of your parents.

Types Of Cousins

No matter how many degrees cousins are separated from you (e.g. second cousins or third cousins) they will always be the same generation as you. 

There isn’t a limit to how many cousins one can have. You can have tenth cousins, or even twentieth. However, we don’t really count them as relatives because, at that point, there is only a 0.1% chance that they share 0.1% DNA with you. 

Let’s take a look at the different “types” of cousins: 



First Cousins

You and your first cousins share grandparents and are your uncle or aunt’s children. You share 12.5% of your first cousin’s DNA. 

First cousins are commonly known as just your cousins or full cousins. You’d only really refer to them as a first cousin if you’re distinguishing them from another type of cousin.

Second Cousins

You and your second cousins share the same great-grandparents and are your parent’s first cousin’s children. You’re 98% likely to share 3.13% of your second cousin’s DNA. 

Just as your first cousin is your uncle or aunt’s child, your mother or father’s first cousin is their uncle or aunt’s child, and their children are your second cousins.

Third Cousins

In the same vein, third cousins share the same great-great-grandparents. They are your parent’s second cousin’s kid or your grandparent’s first cousin’s grandchild.

Fourth Cousins

Fourth cousins’ common ancestor is their great-great-great-grandparents. A fourth cousin is your parent’s third cousin’s child, your grandparent’s second cousin’s grandchild, and so on.

Other Types Of Cousins

  • Distant cousins: A distant cousin is any beyond your third cousin. First cousins and second cousins share a close common ancestor, while distant cousins share a common ancestor more than three generations back. 
  • Double cousins: Double cousins are first cousins twice and share two sets of grandparents instead of one. For example, if your sister weds your husband’s brother, their children would be double cousins and would share all four grandparents.
  • Kissing cousins: A kissing cousin is a term used for close cousins that are familiar with each other. The “kissing” part just means you’re close enough to kiss them on the cheek when you see them.

What Is A “Removed” Cousin?

A removed cousin is someone who is separated from you, or removed, by at least one generation. You and your first cousins share the same grandparent. If your first cousin has a kid, that child would be your first cousin once removed. They would be two generations from your shared grandparent and one generation below you. 

Take a look at some examples of a second cousin once removed: 

  • Your second cousin once removed: Your second cousin and you share the same great-grandparents. Your second cousin’s child is your second cousin once removed and is one generation below you. 
  • Your parent’s second cousin once removed: Your parents and their second cousin’s common ancestor is their great-grandparent. Your parent’s second cousin’s child is their second cousin once removed. They are the same generation as you and are also your third cousin. 

You have cousins that are zero times removed, simply meaning that they aren’t removed by a generation, like your first or second cousin. 

How To Calculate Cousinship

There is a relatively simple way to calculate family relationships in your family tree. You just need to know how many generations are between your shared ancestor. 

First, take a look at the cousin calculator below. The left column and the top row are you and your cousin’s ancestors. 

If you’re still wondering who is your second cousin and your common ancestor, find the 2nd cousin on the table and follow it outwards.

Calculating Cousinship

To use the table above to find how you and your cousins are related, follow these steps:

  1. First, find the closest common ancestor between you and your cousin.
  2. Find your nearest common grandparent on the horizontal line. 
  3. Find your cousin’s nearest common grandparent on the vertical line.
  4. Follow the lines to see where they intersect. 
  5. The block you end up on is the degree of cousins you are. 


Let’s say your third great-grandparent and your cousin’s great-grandparent are the same person. If you find those grandparents in the table above and follow them till they intersect, you can see that you would be second cousins twice removed. 

The same is true if you reverse it. If your cousin’s great-grandparent is your second great-grandparent, you’re still second cousins twice removed.

Calculating Past 4th Cousins

If you and your cousin’s shared ancestor is four or more generations back, check out this cousin calculator to find cousin relationships. 

girl cousins

Bottom Line

Second cousins, like first cousins, belong to the same generation as you unless they are removed. To determine the degree of cousinship, count the number of “G’s” in your shared lineage. For instance, if you and your cousin only have great-grandparents in common (two “G’s”), you are second cousins.