Definition of cousin in English:


(also first cousin)


  • 1A child of one's uncle or aunt.

    • ‘Not just the immediate family, but including all my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews.’
    • ‘He now knows his mother, knows about his father, half-brothers, cousins, a grandma.’
    • ‘They appeared to belong to my cousin who was intending to return them to the library.’
    • ‘The family includes his wife, two daughters, his father, his cousin and sister-in-law.’
    • ‘At any given time, there are about ten kids outside, plus various aunts, uncles, cousins and other assorted relatives.’
    • ‘A large supporting party will include mum, dad, brothers and cousins.’
    • ‘And I have aunts and uncles and cousins who are really, really close to me and marvelous friends.’
    • ‘Thuy came to Australia as a 24-year-old Vietnamese boat person, together with her uncle, aunt and cousins.’
    • ‘But if you decided to marry your first cousin, that would be very welcome.’
    • ‘They went back and discovered that their mother was there, they had brothers, cousins, sisters and a whole branch of relations.’
    • ‘The flat belonged to his cousin - a woman on the fringes of the underworld.’
    • ‘It had been a huge family affair, all my cousins and uncles and aunts.’
    • ‘Now the child is with my cousin's father and mother.’
    • ‘All of my family - from my mom's sisters and brother and cousins to my dad's sisters and brothers and cousins - is here in the same apartment complex.’
    • ‘There is a great loyalty to one's immediate family and even beyond - to uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews.’
    • ‘He grew up an only child, with his cousins being his brothers and sisters.’
    • ‘With no aunts, uncles or cousins, she and Emily had only each other.’
    • ‘The family includes many relatives, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, and nieces.’
    • ‘But the real hit of the night was the card from my aunt, uncle and cousins.’
    • ‘The extended family system has cemented the blood line relationship to an extent that children born of brothers are not called cousins but brothers or sisters.’
    • ‘I have never been one for arguing, mainly because in the context of my extended family there were always plenty of aunts, uncles and cousins willing to take it too far.’
    relative, relation, blood relation, blood relative, family member, one's own flesh and blood, next of kin
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    1. 1.1 A person in one's wider extended family, to whom one is not closely related.
      ‘she's a distant cousin’
      • ‘Mother and daughter found themselves surrounded by distant cousins.’
      • ‘He was ‘uncle’ because Mike's mother was a distant cousin from back when Natives were still free.’
      • ‘Her father had arranged her marriage to a distant cousin.’
      • ‘In this case he is referred to as a nephew of the deceased in accordance with the Portuguese practice, although in fact he was the son of a distant cousin.’
      • ‘He and Joe were distant cousins on his mother's side.’
      • ‘In 1683, aged 18, she was married to Prince George of Denmark, a distant cousin, and their relationship quickly blossomed into one of lasting devotion.’
      • ‘However, if laws prohibiting adult incest were extended to, say, distant cousins, what possible justification could be given?’
      • ‘And I think that's been a great blessing for me, to have - I have four brothers and extended cousins who I rely on to get me through.’
      • ‘By the age of five he was speaking French, having been instructed by a distant cousin in the back seat of grandmother's LaSalle.’
      • ‘Two brothers and a sister, big Irish family, you know, a lot of extended relatives and cousins, and now just a wonderful, idyllic upbringing.’
      • ‘At 22, her father tried to force her to marry a distant cousin she had never met, but she managed to escape to the Netherlands where she obtained political asylum.’
      • ‘As part of the investigation into her disappearance police travelled to Bradford to interview members of her extended family, including cousins thought to be of a similar age.’
      • ‘Today, many of his cousins and extended family members are contributing to the Pakistani architecture and urban planning.’
      • ‘If someone asks me how I'm related to the bride or groom, I say I'm a distant cousin.’
      • ‘Some species are like brothers and sisters; others are distant cousins.’
      • ‘My dad was busy as ever with work, so the family drafted in a distant cousin to help look after me, my brother and my sister during the summer holidays.’
      • ‘Sympathy is extended to his extended family, cousins and friends.’
      • ‘Stop treating us like your distant cousins when we are your brothers and sisters.’
      • ‘This man is surely a distant cousin; probably a descendant of Cap'n Skewes!’
      • ‘An extended family tree will grow to include many distant cousins.’
    2. 1.2 A thing related or analogous to another.
      ‘the new motorbikes are not proving as popular as their four-wheel cousins’
      • ‘Soybean meal is a high-nitrogen fertilizer that's very similar to its better-known cousin, cottonseed meal.’
      • ‘It is closely related to its more favourite cousin the melon.’
      • ‘The wolves live in packs of up to 12 adults but hunt and forage alone, unlike gray wolves, their North American and European cousins, that hunt in packs.’
      • ‘In some Chilean varieties, the ears are much larger than their North American cousins.’
      • ‘Albeit a somewhat watered-down analog of garlic, their more malodorous cousin, raw onions are one of the best medicinal foods.’
      • ‘British bluebells are already threatened by their Spanish cousins, which are crossbreeding with the English variety, interfering with its genetic integrity.’
      • ‘Like their European cousins, Indian breeds also have geographical names.’
      • ‘There are other similarities with its London cousin - the bar-restaurant-rooms combination; the concentration of beautiful people.’
      • ‘Much as some may think otherwise, counter-insurgency and its cousin counter-terrorism are old businesses with a lot of history.’
      • ‘After all that effort, to have the Pentecostals create a powerful Religious Right in South America analogous to its cousins in the North?’
      • ‘Most people know that PDAs started as electronic counterparts to their cousins, paper-based organizers.’
      • ‘It all seemed a bit like sun suits as opposed to bathing suits, which look way better on the beach than their similarly priced cousins but are ruined if you get them wet…’
      • ‘But these tropical bananas aren't much like their commercial cousins in North American supermarkets.’
      • ‘Before that, next month, the skipper and his team will make their debut in the Scottish Islands Peaks Race, the Scottish cousin of the longer established Three Peaks event.’
      • ‘Though you probably wouldn't want to chug a gallon of it, diethylene glycol is nowhere near as harmful as its similarly named chemical cousin.’
      • ‘Never mind the fact that the cruisers gracing the city roads are mere pocket versions of their original cousins built for autobahns and freeways.’
      • ‘The result of all these developments is that, finally, the digital scope could make its analogue cousin obsolete.’
      • ‘There is no doubt that choline and its cousins are related to memory.’
      • ‘AM ‘talk’ radio in Australia is fairly similar to its American cousin.’
      • ‘The molecules are similar to their better-known cousins, carbon nanotubes.’
    3. 1.3usually cousins A person of a kindred race or nation.
      ‘our American cousins’
      • ‘They get it, even if their British cousins don't.’
      • ‘The French call this potager gardening, while our American cousins know it as edible landscaping.’
      • ‘There is, however, more villainy afoot in this film than the English or the class that they and their American cousins represent.’
      • ‘In daily campaigning, Australians borrow very little from their American cousins.’
      • ‘Brits spend more hours chained to their office desks than their European cousins - because British bosses simply don't trust their staff to work at home instead of in the office.’
      • ‘In the spring, these British birds can beat their Spanish cousins back to Germany, getting dibs on the best nesting sites.’
      • ‘The entire nation, although separated from our American cousins by 3,000 miles of ocean, has been touched by the tragedy.’
      • ‘Millions of Americans have also followed the example of their British cousins, remortgaging to take advantage of record low interest rates.’
      • ‘So why are Canadians falling behind their American cousins?’
      • ‘Despite having to get used to American spellings she quickly took to the game, and continued to play on board an ocean liner as she crossed the Pacific to visit more cousins in Australia.’
      • ‘Of course, once permanently established, the Australian settlers lived and worked as their forebears in England and their cousins in North America.’
      • ‘As more and more people are spending their precious leisure time going to see a play or musical, it is no wonder that our European cousins see this country as the most cultured nation in Europe.’
      • ‘Yes, America is a Christian country, more religious than its decadent European cousins.’
      • ‘Do we never learn from our American and European cousins?’
      • ‘We drink more than our European cousins, more than we used to.’
      • ‘She has, as our American cousins might say, baggage.’
      • ‘In the longer term we should hope that the Chinese and Indians - and our equally-threatening eastern European cousins - raise wage levels nearer to those in the west.’
      • ‘They wanted to look and live like their European and American cousins and for that they needed capital.’
      • ‘There are people who are visibly Mäori but come from very European upbringings, not to mention our cousins from the Pacific who might look Mäori, but who are not.’
      • ‘Besides, New Zealand would be more favorable to Australia, because after all, you people are cousins.’
    4. 1.4historical A title formerly used by a sovereign in addressing another sovereign or a noble of their own country.


  • first cousin once removed

    • 1A child of one's first cousin.

    • 2One's parent's first cousin.

      • ‘I also spoke at length to my first cousin once removed, who credited me with the success of her current relationship.’
      • ‘She was left ‘deeply saddened’ at the sudden death of her first cousin once removed.’
  • first cousin twice removed

    • 1A grandchild of one's first cousin.

      • ‘Ever wonder about the difference between a second cousin, and a first cousin twice removed?’
      • ‘A number of people ask me that question after reading my page about cousins, which explains first cousins twice removed and second cousins once removed.’
      • ‘So the children of my first cousin are first cousins once removed, the grandchildren of my first cousin are first cousins twice removed etc.’
      • ‘My first cousin's grandchild and I are first cousins twice removed to each other (two generations difference between us).’
      • ‘The children of your first cousin are first cousins once removed and their children are first cousins twice removed and so on.’
      • ‘They are first cousins twice removed to Marge.’
      • ‘Consequently, if that once-removed cousin has a child, that offspring will be your first cousin twice removed, and so on.’
      • ‘In reverse, the first cousin of your parent is your first cousin once removed, and the first cousin of your grandparent is your first cousin twice removed, and so on.’
      • ‘If you think that's confusing, try figuring out the difference between your first cousin twice removed, and your second cousin once removed.’
      • ‘Mary's children and John's great-grandchildren will be first cousins twice removed, and so on.’
    • 2One's grandparent's first cousin.

  • second cousin

    • A child of one's parent's first cousin.

      • ‘Matches are often made between cousins, second cousins, or other family members, or if not, at least between members of the same tribe and social class.’
      • ‘She was a first cousin through his mother and a second cousin through his father.’
      • ‘Three huge studies in the U.S. between 1941 and 1981 found that no more than 0.2% of all American marriages were between first cousins or second cousins.’
      • ‘We are still talking to cousins, second cousins and family friends through interpreters.’
      • ‘Or it was your 13-year-old second cousin visiting from out of town.’
      • ‘I have one aunt, one cousin, no second cousins to speak of, and only one living grandparent, and even him I haven't seen since I was a teenager.’
      • ‘That involves their cousins, their first cousins once removed, their second cousins.’
      • ‘Since we don't have any first cousins, we are very close to our second cousins.’
      • ‘And I have a lot of aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and great aunts and great uncles.’
      • ‘All my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, uncles and aunts, cousins, second cousins… they were all Indian, it was all I knew.’
  • second cousin once removed

    • 1A child of one's second cousin.

      • ‘Only the march of time and events allowed her to consolidate her position and keep England together until an obvious Protestant heir had emerged, in the person of second cousin once removed, James VI of Scotland.’
      • ‘Hume was Burns' second cousin once removed, and he dabbled in poetry himself.’
      • ‘He was my second cousin once removed.’
    • 2One's parent's second cousin.

      • ‘Hume was Burns' second cousin once removed, and he dabbled in poetry himself.’
      • ‘Don't make a big deal out of this or you're going to find yourself going with your second cousin once removed.’
      • ‘Daisy was Nick's second cousin once removed, and Tom was Daisy's husband and classmate of Nick's from school.’
      • ‘He has a seemingly inexhaustible number of nephews, nieces, and second cousins once removed.’
  • third cousin

    • A child of one's parent's second cousin.

      • ‘He says that he may be a third cousin of Joe's, once removed, or so.’
      • ‘‘My nieces and nephews in Canada are your third cousins,’ I said when I was introduced to her children.’’
      • ‘They were all his father's cousins and uncles, or third cousin three times removed, which Jack couldn't figure out how that made them related.’
      • ‘He knew his third cousin too well; this was not his writing style or format.’
      • ‘The family network extends to second and third cousins.’
      • ‘It has also been awkward for my wife and daughter, particularly, who was best friends and who is a third cousin to the Complainant.’
      • ‘Another big issue is getting a clean title to the property, with no liens or prospects that a third cousin of the owner will show up to claim it.’
      • ‘Rivalry at court may also explain opposition to his marriage to Ælfgifu, his third cousin once removed, and their separation in 958 on the grounds of consanguinity.’
      • ‘She was often busy being the Queen's third cousin and closest friend.’
      • ‘He also realizes how many outside forces, from family to friends to coaches to guidance counselors to third cousins, can influence a recruit's decision.’
      • ‘Often second or third cousins become ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters.’’
      • ‘I think she was some sort of cousin, a second or third cousin, maybe.’
      • ‘Actually they comprised four families of second and third cousins.’
      • ‘Your third cousin twice removed calls you in a panic that his computer is on the fritz.’
      • ‘If we were second cousins, were the kids third cousins, once or twice removed?’
      • ‘My family, yes, except for maybe that strange third cousin of mine serving his fifth time in jail for drug possession.’
      • ‘Just when things seem their darkest, in he steps, claiming to be either ‘a fourth cousin three times removed or a third cousin four times removed.’’
      • ‘The plant was established in 1999, the year the group expanded by establishing its first British pub in London, managed by a third cousin.’
      • ‘I am the third cousin twice removed from the family of his mother.’
      • ‘Anyway, they only got the titles because my father's third cousin is thirteenth in line for the throne, or something unremarkable like that.’


Middle English: from Old French cosin, from Latin consobrinus ‘mother's sister's child’, from con- ‘with’ + sobrinus ‘second cousin’ (from soror ‘sister’).