Constructing your family tree can be an interesting endeavor, but explaining the relationships among various family members can be confusing, especially when it comes to cousins. Whether a cousin is described as second or "twice removed" depends on whether you are in the same generation.
Two Generations Apart
The term "twice removed" refers to a cousin who is two generations older or younger than you. Your first cousins are the children of your parents' siblings. These cousins share a set of grandparents with you and are in your generation. Your parents have first cousins who share a set of grandparents with them. Your parents' first cousins are not in your generation, so they are your first cousins "once removed." Your grandparents' first cousins are two generations apart from you -- first cousins "twice removed."
Not to Be Confused With Second Cousins
The biggest confusion faced by genealogists when sorting out cousins is to keep the generations straight. Cousins who are the same number of generations removed from a common ancestor are first, second, third and so on. It is cousins who do not share the same generation that are described as "removed."
- Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images