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See also: Cousin



PIE word
PIE word

The noun is derived from Middle English cosin, cosine, cosyn (blood relative, kinsman or kinswoman; any relative; nephew or niece; first cousin; grandson or granddaughter; descendant; godchild or godparent, or a relative of a godchild or godparent; (figurative) closely related or similar thing) [and other forms],[1] and then:

from Latin cōnsōbrīnus (maternal cousin; first cousin; relation) (possibly through Vulgar Latin *cōsuīnus, from *cōsōbīnus), from con- (prefix denoting a bringing together of several objects) + sobrīnus (maternal cousin; sister’s son; any nephew) (from a noun use of Proto-Italic *swezrīnos (of or belonging to a sister, adjective) (with the first syllable influenced by Latin soror (sister)), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *swésōr (sister), possibly from *swé (self) + *h₁ésh₂r̥ (blood) (that is, a woman of one’s own blood) or *-sōr (feminine suffix)).[2]

The verb is derived from the noun.[3]



cousin (plural cousins)

  1. Chiefly with a qualifying word: any relation (especially a distant one) who is not a direct ancestor or descendant but part of a person's extended family; a kinsman or kinswoman.
    1. (specifically) Preceded by an ordinal number, as first, second, third, etc.: a person descended from a common ancestor by the same number of generations as another person.
      • 1660, Jeremy Taylor, “Rule 3. The Judicial Law of Moses is Annul'd, or Abrogated, and Retains No Obliging Power either in Whole or in Part over any Christian Prince, Commonwealth, or Person.”, in Ductor Dubitantium, or the Rule of Conscience in All Her General Measures; [], volume I, London: [] James Flesher, for Richard Royston [], →OCLC, book II (Of the Rule of Conscience. []), paragraph 89, page 318:
        [] I never knevv the marriage of ſecond Coſens forbidden, but by them vvho at the ſame time forbad the marriage of the firſt: [] And vve find that Iſaac married his ſecond Coſen, and that vvas more for it then ever could be ſaid againſt it.
    2. (specifically) When used without a qualifying word: the child of a person's parent's brother (that is, an uncle) or sister (an aunt); a cousin-german, a first cousin.
      Although we were cousins, we grew up like sisters.
  2. (chiefly in the plural) A person of an ethnicity or nationality regarded as closely related to someone of another ethnicity or nationality.
    • 1837, Washington Irving, chapter VII, in The Rocky Mountains: Or, Scenes, Incidents, and Adventures in the Far West; [], volume II, Philadelphia, Pa.: [Henry Charles] Carey, [Isaac] Lea, & Blanchard, →OCLC, page 75:
      [H]e had received such good accounts from the Upper Nez Percés of their cousins, the Lower Nez Percés, that he had become desirous of knowing them as friends and brothers.
    • 1916 June, Max Beerbohm, “A. V. Laider”, in Seven Men, London: William Heinemann, published 1919, →OCLC, page 147:
      Gusts of letters blow in from all corners of the British Isles. These are presently reinforced by Canada in full blast. A few weeks later the Anglo-Indians weigh in. In due course we have the help of our Australian cousins.
  3. Used as a term of address for someone whom one is close to; also, (preceding a first name, sometimes capitalized as Cousin) a title for such a person.
  4. Used by a monarch to address another monarch, or a noble; specifically (Britain) in commissions and writs by the Crown: used in this way to address a viscount or another peer of higher rank.
  5. (figurative, also attributive) Something kindred or related to something else; a relative.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book III, Canto IIII”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC, stanza 12, page 447:
      Her dolour ſoone ſhe ceaſt, and on her dight / Her Helmet, to her Courſer mounting light: / Her former ſorrovv into ſuddein vvrath, / Both cooſen paſſions of diſtroubled ſpright, / Conuerting, forth ſhe beates the duſty path; / Loue and deſpight attonce her courage kindled hath.
    • 1607, Edward Topsell, “Of the Horsse”, in The Historie of Fovre-footed Beastes. [], London: [] William Iaggard, →OCLC, page 385:
      The euill habit of the body, is next coſin to the dropſie, []
    • 1608, [Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas], “[Du Bartas His Second VVeeke, [].Abraham. [].] The Captaines. The IIII. Part of the III. Day of the II. Week.”, in Josuah Sylvester, transl., Du Bartas His Deuine Weekes and Workes [], 3rd edition, London: [] Humfrey Lownes [and are to be sold by Arthur Iohnson []], published 1611, →OCLC, page 499:
      [T]he friends that in one Couch did ſleep, / Each others blade in eithers breſt do ſteep: / And all the Camp vvith head-les dead is ſovven, / Cut-off by Cozen-ſvvords, kill'd by their ovvne.
    • 1994, Joel Bainerman, “The Dark Side of the Israeli–American Relationship”, in Inside the Covert Operations of the CIA & Israel’s Mossad, New York, N.Y.: S.P.I. Books, →ISBN, page 18:
      Jerry Rawlings has pissed off not only the Company (the CIA) but its cousin (the Mossad) in the Middle East.
    • 2003 November 21, Tim Homfray, “What do they mean …”, in Times Educational Supplement[1], London: TSL Education, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2023-11-11:
      Partnering, along with its less irritating cousin "partnership", crops up all over the place, being equally useful to the lazy jargoneer and the lazy policy-maker. It has been said that there is no noun which cannot be verbed; in the same way, there is now nothing, concrete or abstract, which cannot be partnered.
    • 2015 July 23, Tessa Berenson, “NASA Discovers New Earth-like Planet”, in Time[2], New York, N.Y.: Time Inc., →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2023-03-20:
      NASA has discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting around a star, which a NASA researcher called a "bigger, older cousin to Earth."
  6. (obsolete)
    1. (cant) A female sexual partner who is not a person's wife; specifically, a prostitute.
      • 1604 (date written), Tho[mas] Dekker, [Thomas Middleton], The Honest Whore. [] (4th quarto), London: [] Nicholas Okes for Robert Basse, [], published 1616, →OCLC, Act I, signatures B, verso – B2, recto:
        Viola Svvagger vvorſe then a Lieutenant among freſhvvater ſouldiers, call me your loue, your ingle, your coſen, or ſo; but ſiſter at no hand. / Fuſt[igo]. No, no, it ſhall be cozen, or rather cuz that's the gulling vvord betvveene the Cittizens vviues and their old dames, that man em to the garden; [] [W]hy ſiſter do you thinke I'le cunny-catch you, vvhen you are my cozen?
    2. (cant) A person who is swindled; a dupe.
      Synonyms: see Thesaurus:dupe
      • 1608, [Thomas Dekker], “Of Barnards Law”, in The Belman of London. [], London: [] [Edward Allde and Nicholas Okes] for Nathaniel Butter, →OCLC, signature F, verso:
        [I]f a plaine fellow well and cleanely apparelled, either in home-ſpun ruſſet or freeze (as the ſeaſon requires) with a five pouch at his girdle, happen to appeare in his ruſticall likenes: there is a Cozen ſaies one, At which word out flies the Taker, and thus giues the onſet vpon my olde Pennyfather.
    3. (rare) A person who womanizes; a seducer, a womanizer.

Usage notes[edit]

Regarding sense 1:

  • People who have common grandparents but different parents are first cousins. People who have common great-grandparents but no common grandparents and different parents are second cousins, and so on. In other words, one of a person’s first cousin’s parents is one of that person’s parents’ siblings, and one of a person’s second cousin’s grandparents is one of that person’s grandparents’ siblings. For example, if Phil’s father and Marie’s mother are siblings, Phil and Marie are first cousins; and if Lee’s grandfather and Sarah’s grandmother are siblings, Lee and Sarah are second cousins.
  • The child of a person’s first cousin or the first cousin of a person’s parent is that person’s first cousin once removed, the grandchild of a person’s first cousin or the first cousin of a person’s grandparent is that person’s first cousin twice removed, and so on. For example, if Phil and Marie are first cousins, and Marie has a son Andre, then Phil and Andre are first cousins once removed. If Andre has a daughter Sarah (Marie’s granddaughter), then Phil and Sarah are first cousins twice removed.
  • A patrilineal or paternal cousin is a father’s niece or nephew, and a matrilineal or maternal cousin a mother’s. Paternal and maternal parallel cousins are a father’s brother’s child and mother’s sister’s child, respectively; paternal and maternal cross cousins are a father’s sister’s child and mother’s brother’s child, respectively.


Terms which are hyponyms of sense 1

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]


cousin (third-person singular simple present cousins, present participle cousining, simple past and past participle cousined)

  1. (transitive, rare)
    1. To address (someone) as "cousin".
    2. (also reflexive) To regard (oneself or someone) as a cousin to another person.
      • 1833, G. Herbert Rodwell, The Chimney Piece. A Farce, in One Act. [] (Miller’s Modern Acting Drama, []; no. 5), London: John Miller, [], →OCLC, scene i, page 2:
        Mrs. M[uddlebrain]. [] Mary, who is this young man? / Mary. That's my cousin, ma'am, just stept in to lend us a helping hand in placing the things. / [] / Shuffle. What the devil did she say about a tall grenadier, and the pantry? Mrs. Shuffle! Mrs. Shuffle! / Mary. Hush! Are you mad? Do you want to tell all the world that we're married, and get me turned away? / Shuffle. No; but the grenadier? / Mary. Came to see the cook; so to prevent all the fat being in the fire, I cousined him, and made him a relation. / Shuffle. Yes; and remember you've cousined me too.
      • 1877 May 28, J[acob] Sam[ue]l Vandersloot, quoting Cyrus Sturdivant, “‘To God be All Praise’”, in The True Path; or, The Murphy Movement and Gospel Temperance. [], Philadelphia, Pa.: William Flint, [], published 1877, →OCLC, page 244:
        [T]he old gentleman took me into the house and introduced me to the family, where I was at once cousined by them all.
      • 1885 July, Scotigena Oxoniensis [pseudonym], “London. I. The Row and Westminster. Epistle to a Friend.”, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, volume CXXXVIII, number DCCCXXXVII, Edinburgh, London: William Blackwood & Sons, [], →OCLC, page 135:
        [A] maiden well braced in nerve and muscle, / Far from sensual ease, to be mother of lustiest Britons, / Cousined to Romans in strength and in breadth of masterful Empire.
      • 1885 September, “The Old Owl of the Sron”, in [John Stuart] Blackie, transl., edited by Alexander Mackenzie, The Celtic Magazine: [], volume X, number CXIX, Inverness, Inverness-shire: A[lexander] & W. Mackenzie, [], →OCLC, page 522:
        O Donald, thou wert the boy, / Steel to the bone, and like thee none! / Cousined wert thou to the great Clan Chattan, / Thou, the nodding cliff's foster son.
      • 1962, John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley in Search of America, New York, N.Y.: Viking Press, published March 1968, →OCLC, page 201:
        Let me say in the beginning that even if I wanted to avoid Texas I could not, for I am wived in Texas and mother-in-lawed and uncled and aunted and cousined within an inch of my life.
  2. (intransitive, chiefly US, informal or regional)
    1. To associate with someone or something on a close basis.
      • 1999, Garrett Stewart, “Modernism and the Flicker Effect”, in Between Film and Screen: Modernism’s Photo Synthesis, Chicago, Ill., London: University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 310:
        In an appendix to The Mechanic Muse, he [Hugh Kenner] finds Victorian symbolist practice serving to release the signifier from centuries of post-Enlightenment confusion about the proper wedding (or at least cousining) of word and thing.
      • 2007, Caperton Tissot, quoting Elise Chapin, “Some Offered Healing, Some Found Healing”, in Willem Tissot, editor, History between the Lines: Women’s Lives and Saranac Lake Customs, Jay, N.Y.: Graphics North, →ISBN, pages 110–111:
        [P]atients would escape into the town for a bit of a fling or "cousining" as it was called. "Cousining" was a Saranac Lake euphemism that applied to a couple, both of them patients and sometimes already married with a spouse living far away, who spent time together or dated each other.
        A noun use.
      • 2012, David Roche, Bob McKee, “The Moral Failure of Democracy”, in Democrisis: Democracy Caused the Debt Crisis. Will It Survive It?, [London]: Independent Strategy, →ISBN, pages 12–13:
        The UK has fiscal arithmetic cousined with that of Greece, but is dealing with it.
    2. To visit a cousin or other relation.
      • 1836 July, “A Chapter on Cousins”, in Dublin University Magazine, volume VIII, number XLIII, Dublin: William Curry, Jun. and Company; London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., →OCLC, page 28, column 1:
        You know when you get up in the morning that you have a certain quantity of cousining to go through before the day is over, and you make up your mind to it; read a page of Seneca, add a verse to your litany, and commit yourself to Providence, like a wise man and a Christian.
        A noun use.
      • 1845 October 20, B. C. True, “Cousining in Autumn”, in Thomas L. Harris, John Tanner, editors, The Gavel: A Monthly Periodical Devoted to Odd Fellowship and General Literature, volume II, number 3, Albany, N.Y.: John Tanner, published November 1845, →OCLC, page 80:
        Who then that has a cousin, has aught to say against cousining? We do indeed often her sneeringly the expression of "Dutch cousining" or "Yankee cousining," as if there was something mean in the act of visiting those who are "next of kin." To such as do it, I feel an unconquerable aversion or excessive pity; as they appear censorious or betray a stupidity that cannot feel a consanguine tie beyond their hearth.
        A noun use.
      • 1887 June, Herminius Cobb, “[The Household.] Mr. Blossom Visits His Relations.”, in The American Magazine: Supplement, volume I (New Series; volume VI overall), number 2, New York, N.Y.: The American Magazine Company, []; London: The Christian Million Company, →OCLC, page 245, column 1:
        It isn't the thing for a man to be like a stranger to his own flesh and blood. I'm going cousining, Sue, down East, and I'll hunt up my relations.
      • 1895, Gilbert Parker, “As Vain as Absalom”, in The Seats of the Mighty [], Toronto, Ont.: The Copp, Clark Company, published 1896, →OCLC, page 87:
        The pretty wren perches now in the Governor's house—a-cousining, a-cousining.
      • 1959 January 5, “An 80th Wedding Anniversary”, in Henry R[obinson] Luce, editor, Life, volume 46, number 1, Chicago, Ill., New York, N.Y.: Time Inc., →ISSN, →OCLC, page 78:
        In 1878 they were married in the Mormon Temple in St. George, 300 miles away, and he drove her back home in a hay wagon in eight days. They "cousined" (stopped with relatives) all the way.



  1. ^ cǒsī̆n(e, cọ̄sī̆n(e, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ Compare “cousin, n. and adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2023; “cousin, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ cousin, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023.

Further reading[edit]




Etymology 1[edit]

PIE word
PIE word

Inherited from Middle French cousin, from Old French cosin (collateral male relative more distant than one’s brother; form of address used by a monarch to male monarchs or nobles) [and other forms] , from Latin cōnsōbrīnus (maternal cousin; first cousin; relation) (possibly through Vulgar Latin *cōsuīnus, from *cōsōbīnus), from con- (prefix denoting a bringing together of several objects) + sobrīnus (maternal cousin; sister’s son; any nephew) (from a noun use of Proto-Italic *swezrīnos (of or belonging to a sister, adjective) (with the first syllable influenced by Latin soror (sister)), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *swésōr (sister), possibly from *swé (self) + *h₁ésh₂r̥ (blood) (that is, a woman of one’s own blood) or *-sōr (feminine suffix)).


cousin m (plural cousins, feminine cousine)

  1. cousin (male)
    Mon cousin et son fils sont venus me voir.
    My cousin and his son came to see me.
Derived terms[edit]
  • Turkish: kuzen

Etymology 2[edit]

Inherited from Latin culicīnus (mosquito-like), from culex (gnat, midge).


cousin m (plural cousins)

  1. (regional, archaic) mosquito
    Synonym: moustique
Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Middle French[edit]


PIE word
PIE word

Inherited from Old French cosin, from Latin cōnsōbrīnus (maternal cousin; first cousin; relation) (possibly through Vulgar Latin *cōsuīnus, from *cōsōbīnus), from con- (prefix denoting a bringing together of several objects) + sobrīnus (maternal cousin; sister’s son; any nephew) (from a noun use of Proto-Italic *swezrīnos (of or belonging to a sister, adjective) (with the first syllable influenced by Latin soror (sister)), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *swésōr (sister), possibly from *swé (self) + *h₁ésh₂r̥ (blood) (that is, a woman of one’s own blood) or *-sōr (feminine suffix)).


cousin m (plural cousins, feminine singular cousine, feminine plural cousines)

  1. male cousin



Alternative forms[edit]


From Old French cosin, from Latin cōnsōbrīnus.


cousin m (plural cousins, feminine cousaine)

  1. (Guernsey) (male) cousin