In kinship terminology, a cousin is a relative with whom one shares a common ancestor. In modern usage, the term is rarely used when referring to a relative in one's own line of descent, or where there is a more specific term to describe the relationship: e.g., brother, sister, aunt, uncle. The term blood relative can be used synonymously, and underlines the existence of a genetic link.
A system of degrees and removes is used to describe the relationship between the two cousins and the ancestor they have in common. The degree (first, second, third cousin, etc.) indicates one less than the minimum number ofgenerations between either cousin and the nearest common ancestor; the remove (once removed, twice removed,etc.) indicates the number of generations, if any, separating the two cousins from each other.
For example, a person with whom you share a grandparent (but not a parent) is a first cousin; someone with whom you share a great-grandparent (but not a grandparent) is a second cousin; and someone with whom you share a great-great-grandparent (but not a great-grandparent) is a third cousin; and so on. The child of your first cousin is yourfirst cousin once removed because the one generation separating you and the child (the cousin) represents oneremove. You and the child are still considered first cousins, as your own grandparent (this child's great-grandparent), as the most recent common ancestor, represents one degree.
Non-genealogical usage often eliminates the degrees and removes, and refers to people with common ancestors merely as cousins or distant cousins. Alternatively, the terms 'second cousin' and 'first cousin once removed' are often incorrectly used interchangeably.The system can handle kinships going back any number of generations (subject to the genealogical information being available).