Nobody understands the difference between 1st and 2nd cousins – or once or twice removed.  I think it’s simple, actually, if you think about it as a ladder (above).

Point 1) It all starts with a pair of siblings (at top)

Point 2) It ladders down by generations.  Going across a rung in the ladder equates to Nth cousins.  Then moving up equates to Nth removed.


  • The children of siblings are first cousins
  • The grandchildren of siblings are second cousins.  (i.e., being second cousins means your grandparents are siblings.)
  • The great grandchildren of siblings are third cousins.  (i.e., being third cousins means your great grandparents are siblings.)
  • Blue child and orange grandchild are first cousins, once removed.
  • Blue child and orange great grandchild are first cousins, twice removed.


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