Uncle: the brother of your mother or father; the husband of your aunt

aunt: the sister of your father or mother; the wife of your uncle

brother: a boy or man who has the same mother and father as another person

sister: a girl or woman who has the same mother and father as another person

Say I have a sister and my son calls her "aunt", for example, "Aunt Mary"

I have many cousins, too. They are children of my father's brothers or sisters.

What does my son call my cousins? "Uncle Tom" etc?

I am confused.


3 Answers 3


As has already been answered, the technical term for the relationship between your cousin and your children is first cousins once removed. This article helps explain the different kinds of cousins.

However, this term is very rarely used in everyday conversation. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising for a native English speaker to ask the very same question you are asking.

Most people refer to all their first cousins, second cousins etc simply as cousins.

However, you asked if your son should call your cousin "uncle" and I think it is worth noting that it is common in Britain for children to use the terms "uncle" and "aunt" as polite terms for a wide range of older people, including non-relatives such as close friends of their parents. For that reason, it would not surprise me at all if a child referred to their parent's cousin as "uncle".

  • could you explain "once removed"? what does it mean?
    – Tom
    Mar 4, 2020 at 10:20
  • @Tom The article I linked to explains it, but simply put, it refers to each generation that separates you. Your child is one generation away from you. Your child is two generations away from your parents (their grandparents). Your cousin is your child's cousin once removed; your parent's cousin would be your child's cousin twice removed.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 4, 2020 at 10:22
  • So, my cousin is Tom & his daughter is Mary. In reality, Could my son call Tom "cousin Tom" & call Mary "cousin Mary"?
    – Tom
    Mar 4, 2020 at 12:14
  • 1
    @Tom what they technically are is first cousins twice removed. They can call each other what they like. If I were close to my distant cousins I would probably call them cousins, but its personal. In my answer, I mentioned that it is not uncommon for family friends to be called aunt or uncle.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 4, 2020 at 14:39

Your first cousins are your child's first cousins once removed. This means there is a generation gap between your cousins and your child. share the same great grandparent (the parents of your grandparents).

In English, it is customary to call cousins simply by their first names. For example, if Mary and Tom are siblings and they are my cousins, I would say:

Mary and Tom are my cousins. Our mothers are sisters.


They are my cousins. Their father is my mum's brother.

So, if you want to keep it simple

Mary and Tom are Kim's (my child's name) cousins

If you want to be wholly accurate

Mary and Tom are Kim's first cousins once removed

Here's a chart that explains the relationship between cousins. It gets rather complicated… See Wikipedia for a thorough analysis.

enter image description here

Source: FamilySearch.org

  • " you and your child share the same great grandparent"? confused? My son calls my grandparent "great grandparent"?
    – Tom
    Mar 4, 2020 at 8:33
  • I meant your child and your cousin. Sorry.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 4, 2020 at 8:37
  • "your cousins and your child share the same great grandparent"? what do you mean ? My cousins and I are at the same level right? My child & my cousins' children are at the same level right?
    – Tom
    Mar 4, 2020 at 8:53
  • 1
    Do we have some sort of "great cousin"? Say, Tom is my cousin & my son calls him "great cousin Tom"? is that ok?
    – Tom
    Mar 4, 2020 at 8:59
  • @Tom I've never heard anyone being called a great cousin. If you look at the chart, that expression is not used. It's first cousin; first cousin once removed; second cousin; second cousin once removed, and so on. People stick with cousins, some talk about second and even third cousins. Once you enter the field of "once removed" or "twice removed" it gets really confusing.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 4, 2020 at 9:04

Other answers have given the correct term "first cousins once removed" But this obscures the actual question

[I have a cousin named Tom] What does my son call my cousin?

Both you and your son call your cousin "Tom" with no special title.

It is common to refer to parents as "Mummy" or "Dad". And it is common to refer to Grandparents and Uncles as "Grandad Joe" or "Uncle Pete". But you don't use cousin as a title in this way.

Note, we don't use "brother" as a title. We use names

Mum! Jack took my biscuit. (not "brother Jack")

Both you and your son would call your cousin by his name without any title.

Take this and give it to Tom.

I gave it to Tom.

You can use "My cousin" as an appositive.

My cousin, Tom, is coming to stay.

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