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Blend of nephew or niece +‎ sibling, coined by the American linguist Samuel Elmo Martin (1924–2009) in 1951.[1]



nibling (plural niblings)

  1. (originally chiefly anthropology, often in the plural) Used especially as a gender-neutral term: the child of one's sibling or sibling-in-law; one's nephew or niece. [from 1951]
    Synonyms: nephling, niefling
    Hyponyms: nephew, niece
    • 1967, Ben J. Wallace, Gaddang Agriculture: The Focus of Ecological and Cultural Change (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation), Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin, →OCLC:
      Aunts and uncles are concerned with the education of their niblings and may play a minor role in the ultimate arrangement of a marriage for the nibling.
    • 1971, Journal of the Steward Anthropological Society, volume 3, Urbana, Ill.: Steward Anthropological Society, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 144:
      Very recently I heard an informant respond with cousin to my question about the “child of nibling” position.
    • 1974, Roger W. Shuy, Charles-James N. Bailey, editors, Towards Tomorrow’s Linguistics, Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, →ISBN, page 125:
      In the following line we find Q1P2; that is, child of a parent of a parent; this is the relation that nuncles (aunts or uncles) bear to niblings (nieces or nephews).
    • 1988, Jay Miller, “Viola Edmundson Garfield”, in Ute Gacs, Aisha Khan, Jerrie McIntyre, Ruth Weinberg, editors, Women Anthropologists: Selected Biographies, Illini Books edition, Urbana, Chicago, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, published 1989, →ISBN, page 112:
      She [Viola Edmundson Garfield] was close to her family, particularly her younger “siblings and niblings.”
    • 1998 May, Daniel J. Kruger, “Male Relatives Benefit More from Kin Selecting Tendencies Enhancing Social Status”, in Daniel J. Kruger, PhD, University of Michigan[1], archived from the original on 17 June 2019:
      Kin selection was strongest for choices between sibling and friend, decreasing across sibling vs. nibling, nibling vs. friend, and nibling vs. cousin, [...]
    • 1999, Jay Miller, “Body”, in Lushootseed Culture and the Shamanic Odyssey: An Anchored Radiance, Lincoln, Neb., London: University of Nebraska Press, →ISBN, page 127:
      Most distinctive of the system, therefore, were the two terms for parental siblings and for niblings, which occurred only among the Salish and neighboring Southern Nootkans.
    • 2005, Sean M. Theriault, The Power of the People: Congressional Competition, Public Attention, and Voter Retribution (Parliaments and Legislatures), Columbus, Oh.: Ohio State University Press, →ISBN, page x:
      But, it is my niblings who taught me how to love.
    • 2005 February, N. J. Enfield, “The Body as a Cognitive Artifact in Kinship Representations: Hand Gesture Diagrams by Speakers of Lao”, in Current Anthropology, volume 46, number 1, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, →DOI, →ISSN, →OCLC, pages 51–81; quoted in N. J. Enfield, “Diagramming”, in The Anatomy of Meaning: Speech, Gesture, and Composite Utterances (Language, Culture, and Cognition; 8), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press, 2009, →ISBN, part II (Illustrative Components of Moves), page 161:
      Cousins are informally referred to by the same terms used for siblings, but officially one has an aunt/uncle-nibling relationship with one's cousins.



  1. ^ Harold C[olyer] Conklin (1964), “Ethnogenealogical Method”, in Ward H[unt] Goodenough, editor, Explorations in Cultural Anthropology: Essays in Honor of George Peter Murdock, New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Book Co., →OCLC, page 35.

Further reading[edit]