The terminology around relationships between family members can get confusing once you step outside the immediate family. Can you have a first cousin thrice removed? Is my brother-in-laws brother my brother-in-law? What is my relationship to my aunts ex-husband?
In many cases, there arent simple solutions. Here are some kinships that leave a lot of us scratching our heads.
Q. If avuncular refers to the relationship between a man and his sisters children, is there an equivalent term for a woman?
A. While the term materteral or “materterine” has been suggested, stemming from the latin, matertera, there is not enough evidence to suggest these are used in an official capacity.
Q. When is it best to use by marriage?
A. This versatile term can describe the relationship created between any two people who become related through marriage, but is most helpful in explaining the nature of the relationship, such as distinguishing between your parents sister (your blood aunt) from the person who married your parents sibling (your aunt by marriage).
Q. Is my grandmothers sister my great-aunt or my grand-aunt?
A. Technically, your grandparents sister would be your grand-aunt, based on the generation removed, while great refers to anything after grand. However, great-aunt is commonly used and so long as the relationship is clear and works for you, either is acceptable (though there is something rather majestic about the term, Great-grand-aunt when referring to your grandmothers favorite aunt).
Q. If my sisters husband is my brother-in-law, does that make his siblings my in-laws, too?
A. Merriam-Weber defines in-law as a person you are related to because of your marriage; especially: the father or mother of your husband or wife. Because the marriage is a legal binding (which can be undone) rather than a blood relationship (which cant), and the contract is between your sister and her husband, there is no legally binding contract between you and your brother-in-laws brother. My sisters in-laws clarifies the relationship, though it can be unwieldy.
Q. If your aunt divorces your uncle by blood, is she still your aunt?
A. Depends. Do you want her to be? Your answer will likely depend on a number of factors: Is it solely the act of marriage that makes someone an aunt or uncle, or do things like the couple having children who youre related by blood to (i.e., your cousins) factor in? What happens if your uncle remarriesDoes his former wife have to relinquish the title? Each family has to determine this for themselves.
Q. Can you have a first cousin twice removed?
A. Sure can. The term removed refers to the difference in generations; a first cousin once removed would be your cousins child. Your cousins grandchild would be your first cousin twice removed.
Q. If we have grandparents and grandchildren and cousins, why is there no singular word for nieces and nephews?
A. Actually, there is! Coined by a linguist by the name of Samuel E. Martin, the term niblings is a play on the word siblings. As any doting auntie can attest, its a great word to describe the collective cuteness.