Cousins:  from kissing to fourth 4 times removed

At the time of the wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, commentators made much of the fact that Diana was a seventh cousin of the late Humphrey Bogart—that is, they had the same great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.

That’s going a bit far in tracing cousins (a still more distant pair: Queen Elizabeth and George Washington). But most people are curious about the nearer degrees of cousinhood in their own families. And is cases where someone dies without a will, cousinship can be the basis for a claim on the estate. In the years since Howard Hughes died, more than 500 people have claimed to be his cousin, and the courts spent years trying to determine who were legitimate heirs.

This table shows how you are related to the various levels of cousins on your own family tree. The child of your uncle (or aunt), for example, is your first cousin. But that cousin’s child is not your second cousin, but your first cousin once removed.

Your second cousin can be defined in many ways, but all the definitions lead back to the same person. A second cousin is the grandchild of your great-uncle or great-aunt. Another way of looking at the second cousin relationship is that a second cousin is the child of your parent's first cousin. A second cousin can also be defined as the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same grandparents.

 For other cousins, just follow the lines on the chart, noting the relationships both up and down from where you are on the family tree.

You can make your own cousin chart by inserting relatives’ names in the boxes on this page.