What is a 3rd Cousin 5x Removed

I recently had someone ask me this very question.  What does a 3rd cousin 5x removed mean?

This is a very common question in genealogy.

Family History Relationship Chart
Family History Relationship Chart

So lets see if we can break it down.  How do we understand genealogy relationships?

First cousins share a same set of grandparents.

So you can have two sets of first cousins.  One on your mothers side and one on your father’s side. First cousins share a common set of grandparents on either their mother or father’s side of the family.  If you share the same first cousins on both sides of the family that is double first cousins.

Second cousins share a same set of great-grandparents.


Third cousins share a same set of great-great-grandparents. 

So this individual shared a set of great-great-grandparents somewhere down the road.


But what about this 5x removed?


Well, let’s start this conversation with first cousins.

First cousins share a set of grandparents.  We will call these cousins Bill and Tim.

So Bill and Tim each have children.  Bill and his wife have Jacob, while Tim and his wife have Cole.


So Bill and Tim are first cousins.

But what is the relationship between Bill and Cole?

Since Bill and Tim are first cousins and Cole is a generation past Tim, this makes Bill and Cole first cousins once removed.

Color coded relationship chart
Color coded relationship chart


But let’s say that Cole has a son named Shane.  Bill and Shane are now first cousins twice removed.  With each generation of children down the line Bill is one more generation removed.


Jacob and Cole are second cousins in this scenario.

So, Jacob and Cole’s children would be third cousin.  We will name those children Lynne and Emilee in this scenario.


So, if each of these families have children for the next 5 generations, Lynne would be 5x removed from Emilee’s great-great-great-grandchild.


Do you get confused in understanding second and third cousins and removed cousins?