After months of much eventfulness, I have at long last decided to start blogging again. What inspired me today was a chart I found, while stumbling, which shows graphically how cousin terminology operates. This was a serendipitous find, as I have often found myself biting me tongue in order to avoid correcting people who misuse the term "second cousin." (Now, to be honest, I had misused this term until a few years ago.) Essentially, what most people think of as a "second cousin" (the child of one's first cousin) is really a "first cousin once removed." A second cousin is, in fact, someone with whom one shares a great-grandparent (or think of it this way: the child of one's parent's cousin). As the chart shows, each higher ordinal number (third, fourth, etc.) denotes another generation one must traverse to find the common grandparent.
My hypothesis as to why most people get this terminology confused is that few regularly associate with (let alone even know) the people with whom they share a great-grandparent. One is much more likely to know one's first cousin's children; or maybe the label "second cousin" just rolls off the tongue more readily, I suppose.
Does your brain hurt yet? Take comfort in the fact that you now know how to properly identify your distant relatives!! And this is a crucial, everyday skill, no?