What to Call Your Distant Relative

When you have a big family, it’s a challenge to figure out how everyone is related. So here are some charts to help you figure it out.

The most straightforward way to find the common ancestor between you and a relative. Maybe the common ancestor is a grandparent or a great-grandparent.

Then figure out how many generations out you are from the common ancestor. Do the same for the relative. As shown below, you can then figure out what to call each other.
 

Keep selecting different people, and you’ll probably start to notice repeats and maybe pull out some patterns. Here are the above labels in a grid format that shows what you call your relatives, again based on the common ancestor.
 


 

In the first row of the grid, you have the nephews and nieces. Add “grand” and then “great” as you look at generations beyond your own.
Conversely, in the first column, you have the uncles and aunts. Again, you add “grand” and then “great” if you yourself are one who is generations out from the common ancestor.
On the diagonal, after brother and sister, it’s just cousin, second cousin, third cousin, etc. So if you’re comparing yourself to a relative who is the same generation as you, but they’re not you’re sibling, they’re your cousin. The first, second, third, etc comes from the number of generations in between you and your common ancestor.
But really, once you get past the first row and column, everyone is your cousin. If you want to say once, twice, thrice removed, you just count the number of generations that separate you and the other relative.

 

Or, if you don’t want to figure it out, just use the dropdown menus at the beginning. That’s what I’m gonna do.

Become a member. Support an independent site. Make great charts.

Join Now

Learn to Visualize Data See All →

How to Make Gridded, Equal-Distance Dot Maps

For when your geographic data is evenly spread rather than aggregated by government boundaries.

How to Make Marimekko Charts in Excel

Marimekko charts, or mosaic plots, allow you to compare categories over two quantitative variables.

How to Make Venn Diagrams in R

The usually abstract, qualitative and sometimes quantitative chart type shows relationships. You can make them in R, if you must.

How to Make a Custom Stacked Area Chart in R

You could use a package, but then you couldn’t customize every single element, and where’s the fun in that?