Definition of cousin in US English:


(also first cousin)


  • 1A child of one's uncle or aunt.

    • ‘But the real hit of the night was the card from my aunt, uncle and cousins.’
    • ‘It had been a huge family affair, all my cousins and uncles and aunts.’
    • ‘They appeared to belong to my cousin who was intending to return them to the library.’
    • ‘With no aunts, uncles or cousins, she and Emily had only each other.’
    • ‘Now the child is with my cousin's father and mother.’
    • ‘He grew up an only child, with his cousins being his brothers and sisters.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But if you decided to marry your first cousin, that would be very welcome.’
    • ‘The family includes his wife, two daughters, his father, his cousin and sister-in-law.’
    • ‘There is a great loyalty to one's immediate family and even beyond - to uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews.’
    • ‘The flat belonged to his cousin - a woman on the fringes of the underworld.’
    • ‘And I have aunts and uncles and cousins who are really, really close to me and marvelous friends.’
    • ‘Not just the immediate family, but including all my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews.’
    • ‘They went back and discovered that their mother was there, they had brothers, cousins, sisters and a whole branch of relations.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At any given time, there are about ten kids outside, plus various aunts, uncles, cousins and other assorted relatives.’
    • ‘He now knows his mother, knows about his father, half-brothers, cousins, a grandma.’
    • ‘The family includes many relatives, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, and nieces.’
    • ‘A large supporting party will include mum, dad, brothers and cousins.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Thuy came to Australia as a 24-year-old Vietnamese boat person, together with her uncle, aunt and cousins.’
    relative, relation, blood relation, blood relative, family member, one's own flesh and blood, next of kin
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person belonging to the same extended family.
      • ‘However, if laws prohibiting adult incest were extended to, say, distant cousins, what possible justification could be given?’
      • ‘By the age of five he was speaking French, having been instructed by a distant cousin in the back seat of grandmother's LaSalle.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Two brothers and a sister, big Irish family, you know, a lot of extended relatives and cousins, and now just a wonderful, idyllic upbringing.’
      • ‘Stop treating us like your distant cousins when we are your brothers and sisters.’
      • ‘He was ‘uncle’ because Mike's mother was a distant cousin from back when Natives were still free.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some species are like brothers and sisters; others are distant cousins.’
      • ‘Sympathy is extended to his extended family, cousins and friends.’
      • ‘An extended family tree will grow to include many distant cousins.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This man is surely a distant cousin; probably a descendant of Cap'n Skewes!’
      • ‘If someone asks me how I'm related to the bride or groom, I say I'm a distant cousin.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He and Joe were distant cousins on his mother's side.’
      • ‘Her father had arranged her marriage to a distant cousin.’
      • ‘Today, many of his cousins and extended family members are contributing to the Pakistani architecture and urban planning.’
      • ‘Mother and daughter found themselves surrounded by distant cousins.’
    2. 1.2 A thing related or analogous to another.
      ‘the new motorbikes are not proving as popular as their four-wheeled cousins’
      • ‘Much as some may think otherwise, counter-insurgency and its cousin counter-terrorism are old businesses with a lot of history.’
      • ‘The molecules are similar to their better-known cousins, carbon nanotubes.’
      • ‘AM ‘talk’ radio in Australia is fairly similar to its American cousin.’
      • ‘Soybean meal is a high-nitrogen fertilizer that's very similar to its better-known cousin, cottonseed meal.’
      • ‘After all that effort, to have the Pentecostals create a powerful Religious Right in South America analogous to its cousins in the North?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘British bluebells are already threatened by their Spanish cousins, which are crossbreeding with the English variety, interfering with its genetic integrity.’
      • ‘In some Chilean varieties, the ears are much larger than their North American cousins.’
      • ‘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…’
      • ‘There are other similarities with its London cousin - the bar-restaurant-rooms combination; the concentration of beautiful people.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There is no doubt that choline and its cousins are related to memory.’
      • ‘But these tropical bananas aren't much like their commercial cousins in North American supermarkets.’
      • ‘The result of all these developments is that, finally, the digital scope could make its analogue cousin obsolete.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Like their European cousins, Indian breeds also have geographical names.’
      • ‘It is closely related to its more favourite cousin the melon.’
      • ‘Never mind the fact that the cruisers gracing the city roads are mere pocket versions of their original cousins built for autobahns and freeways.’
      • ‘Albeit a somewhat watered-down analog of garlic, their more malodorous cousin, raw onions are one of the best medicinal foods.’
      • ‘Most people know that PDAs started as electronic counterparts to their cousins, paper-based organizers.’
    3. 1.3usually cousins A person of a kindred culture, race, or nation.
      ‘the Russians and their Slavic cousins’
      • ‘In the spring, these British birds can beat their Spanish cousins back to Germany, getting dibs on the best nesting sites.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Millions of Americans have also followed the example of their British cousins, remortgaging to take advantage of record low interest rates.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We drink more than our European cousins, more than we used to.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yes, America is a Christian country, more religious than its decadent European cousins.’
      • ‘Besides, New Zealand would be more favorable to Australia, because after all, you people are cousins.’
      • ‘Of course, once permanently established, the Australian settlers lived and worked as their forebears in England and their cousins in North America.’
      • ‘There is, however, more villainy afoot in this film than the English or the class that they and their American cousins represent.’
      • ‘The entire nation, although separated from our American cousins by 3,000 miles of ocean, has been touched by the tragedy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So why are Canadians falling behind their American cousins?’
      • ‘In daily campaigning, Australians borrow very little from their American cousins.’
      • ‘The French call this potager gardening, while our American cousins know it as edible landscaping.’
      • ‘She has, as our American cousins might say, baggage.’
      • ‘Do we never learn from our American and European cousins?’
      • ‘They get it, even if their British cousins don't.’
    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.

      • ‘Consequently, if that once-removed cousin has a child, that offspring will be your first cousin twice removed, and so on.’
      • ‘So the children of my first cousin are first cousins once removed, the grandchildren of my first cousin are first cousins twice removed etc.’
      • ‘Ever wonder about the difference between a second cousin, and a first cousin twice removed?’
      • ‘Mary's children and John's great-grandchildren will be first cousins twice removed, and so on.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you think that's confusing, try figuring out the difference between your first cousin twice removed, and your second cousin once removed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My first cousin's grandchild and I are first cousins twice removed to each other (two generations difference between us).’
    • 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.’
      • ‘Or it was your 13-year-old second cousin visiting from out of town.’
      • ‘All my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, uncles and aunts, cousins, second cousins… they were all Indian, it was all I knew.’
      • ‘We are still talking to cousins, second cousins and family friends through interpreters.’
      • ‘And I have a lot of aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and great aunts and great uncles.’
      • ‘That involves their cousins, their first cousins once removed, their second cousins.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She was a first cousin through his mother and a second cousin through his father.’
      • ‘Since we don't have any first cousins, we are very close to our second cousins.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Don't make a big deal out of this or you're going to find yourself going with your second cousin once removed.’
  • third cousin

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If we were second cousins, were the kids third cousins, once or twice removed?’
      • ‘He knew his third cousin too well; this was not his writing style or format.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘She was often busy being the Queen's third cousin and closest friend.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘My nieces and nephews in Canada are your third cousins,’ I said when I was introduced to her children.’’
      • ‘The family network extends to second and third cousins.’
      • ‘Anyway, they only got the titles because my father's third cousin is thirteenth in line for the throne, or something unremarkable like that.’
      • ‘The plant was established in 1999, the year the group expanded by establishing its first British pub in London, managed by a third cousin.’
      • ‘Actually they comprised four families of second and third cousins.’
      • ‘He says that he may be a third cousin of Joe's, once removed, or so.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I am the third cousin twice removed from the family of his mother.’
      • ‘Often second or third cousins become ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters.’’
      • ‘I think she was some sort of cousin, a second or third cousin, maybe.’
      • ‘My family, yes, except for maybe that strange third cousin of mine serving his fifth time in jail for drug possession.’
      • ‘It has also been awkward for my wife and daughter, particularly, who was best friends and who is a third cousin to the Complainant.’
      • ‘Your third cousin twice removed calls you in a panic that his computer is on the fritz.’


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