There are certain relationships that have specific names. The father of one of your parents is your grandfather. The mother of one of your parents is your grandmother. The sister of one of your parents is your aunt. And, you guessed it, the brother of one your parents is your uncle. But what about the brother or sister of one of your grandparents? That’s where things get a bit fuzzy.
Technically, the sister of one of your grandparents is your grand-aunt. “Grand” shows that it is one generation away; “great” is supposed to be added to generations beyond “grand.” But like so many other words in the English language, there’s the dictionary definition and then there’s how it’s commonly used.
In my own family, my grandmother’s brother lived with her in their later years. We always called him Uncle Harold and if someone asked how he was related, we would say he was great-uncle Harold (not grand-uncle Harold). In turn, I’m now referred to as a great-aunt to my niece’s son. (I thought I was a great aunt before he was born, but that’s another story.)
I’ve heard several other families use the “great-aunt” or “great-uncle” relationship when it’s actually a “grand.” What have you used in your family to describe the siblings of your grandparents?
Note: We would like to thank community member Nancy Malcolm James for this tasty little conversation starter.
Here you will find informational, and sometimes fun, posts from the folks behind the scenes here at Ancestry.com. We hope you’ll notice just how passionate we are about family history and about the products we’re building to help connect families over distance and time.Visit Ancestry.com