What does "second cousin once removed" really mean, anyway?

The chart below, by Alice J. Ramsay in 1987, may help answer that question. In it, relatives of the same generation appear on the same horizontal line, while parents and children are arranged vertically.

It turns out that "once removed" isn't that hard to understand -- it means "one generation removed." So your first cousin once removed is simply the child of your first cousin.

There are other mysteries about your family that are likely to remain unsolved -- why your dad has such a penchant for Windex, for example, or why your aunt still uses a cassette player. But hopefully this chart will at least help you clear up how everyone is related.


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