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What is a third cousin?

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Quick Answer

Third cousins are two people who share at least one great-great-grandparent. They have parents who are second cousins, grandparents who are first cousins and great-grandparents who are siblings.

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What is a third cousin?
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Full Answer

Someone can also have a cousin who is so many times removed. The term "removed" describes the number of generations cousins are apart. For example, when a third cousin has a child, that offspring becomes a third cousin once removed to the parent's third cousin. The offspring of that child is a third cousin twice removed to the original third cousin. This pattern continues down the line, as each generation has children. The children of third cousins are fourth cousins.


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  • Q:

    What does "third cousin twice removed" mean?

    A:

    The relationship of a "third cousin twice removed" is that of third cousins who are two generations apart. A third cousin twice removed can be the grandchild of a third cousin or the third cousin of a grandparent. Third cousins can also be the grandchildren of two first cousins. Thus, if John's grandfather and Joe’s grandfather are first cousins, John and Joe are third cousins.

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  • Q:

    Am I related to my cousin's cousin?

    A:

    One is only genetically related to one's cousin's cousin if there is a common ancestor shared. However, given the complexity of human relationships, it is not impossible that there might be a distant genetic relationship.

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  • Q:

    What relation is my father's cousin to me?

    A:

    An individual's father's cousin is the individual's second cousin, assuming the cousin is the child of one of the father's siblings. Familial relationships are determined by descent beginning with the first common ancestor or relative.

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  • Q:

    What do you call your mother's cousin?

    A:

    The first cousin of one's mother is referred to as one's first cousin, once removed. This phrase is also used to denote one's relationship with a first cousin's child. The phrase "once removed" specifies that there is one generation difference between the two relatives, while "twice removed" signifies members of a family that are two generations apart.

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