A Fascinating Explanation About the Confusing Concept of Cousin Removal Within Family Trees

In a lineal episode of Do Online Now Guys (D.O.N.G.), host Michael Stevens of VSauce sat down with a marker and white cardstock paper to verbally and visually explain the often confusing concept of cousin removal within a family tree.

Essentially, the process looks at the number of generational levels each cousin has to travel to a common ancestor. The smallest of the two determines the degree. The difference between the levels traveled to reach that ancestor is the removal. For example, a first cousin’s children would be first cousins, once removed.

The children of my aunts and uncles are my first cousins. Because we both have journeys of the same length passing through one generation, there’s no removal. But the children of my first cousins …have a most recent common ancestor, that is my grandparents and their great-grandparents. …we have to go through one two generations for them to get to the most recent common ancestor. …I only have to go through one. The degree is named after the smaller of the two, so these are still my first cousins. But if both of the journeys are of different lengths, then the difference between those lengths is the removal

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.