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.
About Amy Johnson Crow
Amy Johnson Crow is a Community Manager for Ancestry.com. She's a Certified Genealogist and an active lecturer and author. Her roots run deep in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. She earned her Masters degree in Library and Information Science at Kent State University. Amy loves to help people discover the joys of learning about their ancestors and she thinks that there are few things better than a day in a cemetery. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and No Story Too Small.