This article is the second part of a three-part series describing the traditional names for the various members of one’s family.
The first article discussed the phrase “the natural objects of one’s bounty,” which means the closest surviving members of one’s family. Ancestors are described in terms of parent relationship and descendants are described in terms of child relationship. One’s parents and their parents, and one’s child or children and their children, are related in a direct line of descent, and known as one’s lineal relatives. That leaves collateral relatives. They are persons of common ancestry, but not in a common line of descent.
Close Collateral Relatives
The children of one’s parents, other than oneself, are known as one’s siblings. A brother is a male sibling. A sister is a female sibling.
A nephew is a male child of one’s sibling. A niece is a female child of one’s sibling. A child of one’s nephew is known as one’s grandnephew, and a child of one’s niece is known as one’s grandniece. A child of a grandnephew is known as one’s great-grandnephew, and a child of one’s grandniece is known as one’s great-grandniece, and so on.
An uncle is a male child of one’s grandparent who is not one’s parent. An aunt is a female child of one’s grandparent who is not one’s parent. A great-uncle is a male child of one’s great-grandparent, and a great-aunt is a female child of one’s great-grandparent, and so on.
A cousin is a grandchild (or further descent) of one’s grandparent (or further ascendant). A first cousin is the grandchild of one’s grandparent. A second cousin is the great-grandchild of one’s great-grandparents, and so on.
Consanguinity and Affinity
A lineage is all of the persons who can trace their natural origin back to a common ancestor. Blood relatives, the members of a lineage, are related by blood. The formal term for related by blood is consanguinity. The terms kin and kinship are sometimes used to refer to blood relatives, but they can also be used to refer to a larger group (e.g., including spouses) or a smaller group (e.g., blood relatives more remotely related than through grandparents). Likewise, the phrase next of kin is sometimes used to refer to the nearest blood relatives, but it can also be used to refer to a larger or smaller group.
Most states prohibit marriage between persons who are second cousins or more closely related. The term in-laws is used to describe person’s related to one’s spouse. Along with one’s spouse, in-laws are said to be related by marriage. The formal term for related by marriage is affinity.