[kuhz-uh n]
See more synonyms for cousin on
  1. Also called first cousin, full cousin. the son or daughter of an uncle or aunt.See also second cousin, removed(def 2).
  2. one related by descent in a diverging line from a known common ancestor, as from one's grandparent or from one's father's or mother's sister or brother.
  3. a kinsman or kinswoman; relative.
  4. a person or thing related to another by similar natures, languages, geographical proximity, etc.: Our Canadian cousins are a friendly people.
  5. Slang. a gullible, innocent person who is easily duped or taken advantage of.
  6. a term of address used by a sovereign in speaking, writing, or referring to another sovereign or a high-ranking noble.

Origin of cousin

1250–1300; Middle English cosin < Anglo-French co(u)sin, Old French cosin < Latin consōbrīnus cousin (properly, son of one's mother's sister), equivalent to con- con- + sōbrīnus second cousin (presumably orig. “pertaining to the sister”) < *swesrīnos, equivalent to *swesr-, gradational variant of *swesōr (> soror sister) + *-īnos -ine1; for -sr- > -br- cf. December
Related formscous·in·age, cous·in·hood, cous·in·ship, noun


  1. Vic·tor [veek-tawr] /vikˈtɔr/, 1792–1867, French philosopher and educational reformer: founder of the method of eclecticism in French philosophy. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for cousin

relative, kinsman, kinswoman, nobleman, kin, counterpart, coz

Examples from the Web for cousin

Contemporary Examples of cousin

Historical Examples of cousin

  • This post was filled in Oldport, in those days, by my cousin Kate.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • "A cousin from Australia," she concluded: they had cousins there.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • He wrote to his cousin Helen asking if he might bring a friend with him.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • The second point in this category is own cousin to the above.

    The Dramatic Values in Plautus

    Wilton Wallace Blancke

  • Is there anything you want me to do in this sad affair, cousin Hester?

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for cousin


  1. Also called: first cousin, cousin-german, full cousin the child of one's aunt or uncle
  2. a relative who has descended from one of one's common ancestors. A person's second cousin is the child of one of his parents' first cousins. A person's third cousin is the child of one of his parents' second cousins. A first cousin once removed (or loosely second cousin) is the child of one's first cousin
  3. a member of a group related by race, ancestry, interests, etcour Australian cousins
  4. a title used by a sovereign when addressing another sovereign or a nobleman
Derived Formscousinhood or cousinship, nouncousinly, adjective, adverb

Word Origin for cousin

C13: from Old French cosin, from Latin consōbrīnus cousin, from sōbrīnus cousin on the mother's side; related to soror sister


  1. Victor (viktɔr). 1792–1867, French philosopher and educational reformer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cousin

mid-12c., from Old French cosin (12c., Modern French cousin) "nephew, kinsman, cousin," from Latin consobrinus "cousin," originally "mother's sister's son," from com- "together" (see com-) + sobrinus (earlier *sosrinos) "cousin on mother's side," from soror (genitive sororis) "sister."

Italian cugino, Danish kusine, Polish kuzyn also are from French. German vetter is from Old High German fetiro "uncle," perhaps on the notion of "child of uncle." Words for cousin tend to drift to "nephew" on the notion of "father's nephew."

Many IE languages (including Irish, Sanskrit, Slavic, and some of the Germanic tongues) have or had separate words for some or all of the eight possible "cousin" relationships, e.g. Latin, which along with consobrinus had consobrina "mother's sister's daughter," patruelis "father's brother's son," atruelis "mother's brother's son," amitinus "father's sister's son," etc. Old English distinguished fæderan sunu "father's brother's son," modrigan sunu "mother's sister's son," etc.

Used familiarly as a term of address since early 15c., especially in Cornwall. Phrase kissing cousin is Southern U.S. expression, 1940s, apparently denoting "those close enough to be kissed in salutation;" Kentish cousin (1796) is an old British term for "distant relative."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with cousin


see country cousin; first cousin; kissing cousins; second cousin.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.