Who is my first cousin once removed?

In meeting someone new, I needed to explain who my first cousin once removed, was. It was bad enough trying to figure it out in English on the cuff, but how to do the relationship tree in Spanish was a “very interesting exercise”! I think we forgot what we were originally saying in the end. So, who is my first cousin once removed, in Spanish, for next time?

In English we have the terms “second cousin” (same generation) and “first cousin once removed” (cousin of parent or child of cousin), but informally we often use “second cousin” or simply “cousin” for both.
Spanish uses the terms “tio segundo”, “primo segundo” and “sobrino segundo” refering to older/same/younger generation respectively but informally we’re pretty safe just using tío/primo/sobrino, especially when we know the people well.

This is how I understand the precise terminology in Spanish:

In the same generation we have

  • primo (hermano) = (first) cousin
  • primo segundo = second cousin [i.e. their parents are cousins]
  • primo (lejano) = some kind of relation

In different generations we can make use of composite terms like:

  • primo tío = primo de su padre (first cousin once removed)
  • primo sobrino = hijo de su primo (first cousin once removed)
  • tío abuelo = great uncle
  • sobrino nieto = great nephew
  • bisabuelo = greatgrandfather
  • bisnieto = greatnephew
1 Like

This is quite correct, except for “primo tío” and “primo sobrino”, which I’ve never heard and sound very strange to me. Instead, I would say “tío segundo” and “sobrino segundo”.

Notice that the series continues: there are also “primos/tíos terceros” and so on. Those would also count as “primos lejanos”, as you mention. There are also “tíos lejanos” and “sobrinos lejanos”.

[EDIT] And “parientes lejanos” more generally

Just to claify, because I found the English confusing in the explanation.

In cousin relationships, “removed” means there is a generation separating the cousins. Your first cousin is the same generation as you. Your first cousin once removed would be either your parent’s first cousin or your first cousin’s child.

So, for example:

My father’s brother is called my tio (uncle). My tio’s son is called my primo (cousin). In fact he is my first cousin. If my primo (first cousin) had a son, that child would be my first cousin, once removed. I would also be his first cousin, once removed.

What is that relationship called in Spanish? Francisco, would I be that kid’s “tío segundo” and he would be my “sobrino segundo”? Gracias!

That’s correct:

El hermano de mi padre es mi tío.
El hijo de mi tío es mi primo hermano (o simplemente “primo”)
El hijo de mi hermano es mi sobrino
El hijo de mi primo es mi sobrino segundo
El primo de mi padre es mi tío segundo.
El hijo del primo de mi padre(hijo de mi tío segundo) es mi primo segundo
El hijo de un tío segundo de mi padre es mi primo tercero.

[Nota: en general, los parientes más allá del segundo grado son, o bien “parientes lejanos” (que ya dijimos) o “parientes retirados”, que es lo más parecido a “removed”, pero indica parentesco indirecto, no diferencia de generación]

I’m under the impression that “cousin once removed” is a bit ambiguous in English? At least in current conversation? For example, if “once removed” means “separated by a generation”, does it mean that both my first cousin’s son and my first cousin’s father would be “first cousin, once removed?” [This has been my understanding of the term so far].
And how about the son of my father’s cousin? tommymc wrote that he would also be a “first cousin, once removed” but you seem to disagree. May there be differences in use in different English-speaking areas? Maybe that’s not technically correct but still possible in real use?
I confess that I never completely wrapped my head around the English terminology.

To answer OP’s question:

  1. If by “cousin once removed” he means the son of your father’s cousin (tommymc’s interpretation), that’s a “primo segundo” [or “prima segunda” if it’s a woman]
  2. If he means his [first] cousin’s son (LILingquist’s definition), that would be his “sobrino segundo” / “sobrina segunda”.
  3. I he means his [first] cousin’s father, that’s his “tío segundo” or “tía segunda”.
    So, no wonder he found it so hard to talk about this :smiley:

To finish with a bit of humor, have a look at this Mafalda comic strip about kinship terms:

You are right about the use of “removed”, so I have edited my post above. In the scenario you describe the correct terms are “tío segundo” and “sobrino segundo” as you say.

Another example might be useful:
Suppose that my Dad was the Queen’s cousin (he isnt’ btw). Then I would be the Queen’s first cousin once removed, although I might informally refer to myself as her nephew. Historically the term “second nephew” was used in English for this kind of situation.

In Spanish I would officially be “sobrino segundo de la Reina” (or “primo-sobrino”) but would most likely describe myself simlpy as her “sobrino”.

There is a nice diagram of all this (and more) here Anexo:Nomenclatura de parentesco en español - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

1 Like

It’s great to clear this up.
In Spanish a “primo” is always in the same generation, so the idea of a “cousin” from your parents’ or children’s generation sounds completely weird. That must’ve been one of the things that proved to be so confusing in OP’s conversation.

Excellent. Thank you, sir, as always.

I wouldn’t say there is any ambiguity around these terms in English (as the OP suggested), but there is a lot of confusion. In fact, with the exception of serious geneologists, I can’t recall ever meeting another person who had this “right.” And this will be my first time explaining it without a chart. haha.

The number of your cousion relationshiop has to do with how far away your grandfather/common ancestor is. First cousins share a grandfather. Second cousins share a great-grandfather. Third cousins share a great-great-grandfather. “Removed” comes in when this relationship has a generation in between.

Applying this to answer your question: your first cousin’s son is your “first cousin, once removed” and you are HIS “first cousin, once removed” also. Similarly, your father’s first cousin is also YOUR “first cousin, once removed” and vice versa. Your father’s first cousin’s son is your second cousin. Your first cousin’s father would be your uncle.

To use your template from before:

El hermano de mi padre es mi tío.

El hijo de mi tío es mi primo hermano (o simplemente “primo”)

El hijo de mi hermano es mi sobrino

El hijo de mi primo es mi sobrino segundo [This “nephew second” in Spanish is your “first cousin, once removed” in English]

El primo de mi padre es mi tío segundo.[This “uncle second” in Spanish is also your “first cousin, once removed” in English]

El hijo del primo de mi padre(hijo de mi tío segundo) es mi primo segundo [This is your “second cousin” in English]

El hijo de un tío segundo de mi padre es mi primo tercero.

[Okay, buckle your seatbelt. In English, this person would be my father’s “second cousin” (because they are the same generation) and my “second cousin, once removed” (because I am one generation removed). The “tío segundo de mi padre/first cousin, once removed” of my father is my grandfather’s first cousin and thus my “first cousin, TWICE removed” because I am two generations away. His grandson is my “third cousin” because we are of the same generation, but three grandfathers away from our common ancestor (our great-great-grandfather/ tartarabuelo is the same person]

PS: Loved the comic.

“…with the exception of serious genealogists, I can’t recall ever meeting another person who had this ‘right.’”

Well, you haven’t met my wife’s family. They’ve got this stuff covered, let me tell you. They’re not from the south, but they have southern roots, and that might have something to do with it.

Oh that totally is what it’s about it. The Confederacy has this lock, stock, and barrel.

…incidentailly, when you said “my wife…” it was a little jarring. I always associated you with being a Black girl–for absolutely no other reason than I met one once named “Karty.” It wasn’t even “Khardy” or “Kardy.” Maybe now I will be free of it after all these years. Thank you for lightening my load in 2022.

1 Like

Wow! Thanks!

Terms for your wife’s great grandfather’s sister in law. LOL

Well that helps and no doubt was another source of the confusion.

I also cant’ remember ever learnig that (real) primo was short for “primo hermano.”