Less Familiar “Kinship” Terms & Definitions

from Jackie Smith Arnold’s Kinship: It’s All Relative (2nd ed. Baltimore: Genealogy Publishing, Inc.)


Agnatic: regarding the father’s side of the family; Patrilineal or Paternal

Clan: small patriarchal (agnatic) units

Cognate: regarding the mother’s side of the family; in times when the father could not be determined, birth was more important; also called Matrilineal or Maternal.

Endogamy: breeding within clan or tribe

Exogamy: breeding outside clan or tribe

Outbreeding: new blood in clan or tribe

Phratrics: kinship alliances within clan or tribe

Pedigree: register or list of genealogy

Sib or Sept: small cohesive group within phratry by which descendants are referred; sometimes “married” or “maiden” name

Tribes: groups of Clans

(here Arnold lists ten types of marriages, including Monogamy and Polygamy)


Bilateral kinship: affiliation to both Agnatic and Cognate lines

Collateral kinship: sideways relationship by marriage, not blood

Fictive kinship: unrelated by blood or collateral kinship, but considered part of the family

Foundling: child deserted by parents

Immediate: parental relationship to child

Mediate: grandparent to grandchild

Lineal ascent: to go backwards in genealogical time

Lineal descent: to go forward in genealogical time

Unilineal descent: using only mother or father to trace kinship


Aunt: sister of parent; archaic colloquial reference to a prostitute otherwise

Consanquinity: degree of relationship used to determine kinship where no estate will is left

Cousin: share common grandparents

Second cousin: share great-grandparents; add a number for children of same,i.e. Third cousin, etc.

Cross cousin: first cousin

Double first cousin: parallel or ortho cousins; descendants of a brother and sister who marry a sister and brother, which sometimes happened years ago with lack of transportation, social mobility, or limited gene pool

Grand aunt/ uncle: siblings of grandparents

Great-grand relative: reference to additional generation, etc.

Removed: persons/ generation down, i.e. your first cousin’s child would be your cousin Once removed; add a number for each generation; still always cousins laterally in same generation

Siblings German: anyone with the same parents


In-laws: a spouse’s family; not carried to their extensions, however

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