Who are Great Uncles? Explained With Examples (2024)

Great Uncle

What is a great-uncle? This is the topic that we want to analyze and provide suitable answers to in this article. The First known use of the word happened in the 15th century. He is the male and the uncle of your father or mother. We are going to fully define the answer to the question: what is a great uncle? He can be the brother or brother-in-law of your grandparents. He is the uncle of your parents. 

What is in Great Relationships?

In other to answer the question: what is a great grand uncle; we shall take our readers to the root of the relationship and how it evolved to the level of grand uncle or niece. Each of the greats adds one or more generations. If we are to refer to great-grandparents, then this is three generations. The great is an addition of a single generation; when it becomes grand this signifies the addition of two extra generations.


The word great and grand, work the same way with all gender either male or female. It can be aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. The reference to your grandparents is two generations away from you while your great-grandparent represents are three generations away from you. What is a great aunt and uncle? The siblings of your great-granddaughter are your great-niece.

A Great Uncle or Great Aunt Defined

What is a great aunt or uncle? The brother or brother-in-law of one of your grandparents is your great-uncle. The sister or sister-in-law of one of your grandparents is your aunt. The difference in names is a reflection of mere gender. In essence, great uncle or great aunt refers to the same position in the family tree. 

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The Great Grand Uncle

What is a great grand uncle? We are going to address this question by considering happenings in the UK and in the US. Presently in the UK, it is the norm to use great uncle or great aunt in reference to third-generation relationships. While in the US, the popular phrase is in the use of grand uncle and grand aunt.

In essence, great and grand refers to the same thing but it is used in different cultures. The reason for this phrase is very logical, a great-uncle is the same generation as your grandfather because they are brothers. Going further the family tree; he that is the brother of your great-grandfather stands in the place of your great-uncle. This as you can see is a little confusing because of the extra generation that stands in between.  In the same way, the brother of your 5x great grandfather will be your 6x great uncle. 

The introduction of the terms great and great-great helps in removing any form of confusion that might likely set in. Whether you use the terms grand or great; it both refer to your 4th generation grandparents. If you are used to calling your third-generation relatives great; it might be difficult to change to calling them grand; no matter if any of the two is convenient for you; it refers to the same thing. 

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The Term Great Great Uncle

What is a great great uncle? This term is still in use today, and it refers to great-great aunts and great-great uncles that are included in our family tree. They are the same thing as great-granduncles or great-grandaunts. They are also called 2nd great-aunts or 2nd great-uncles. Now come to think of it: are they really related to you?  Yes because the great-grand uncle or aunt is the sibling of any of your grandparents. Your great-granduncles or great-great-uncles are the children of your great-great-grandparents. 

Those that are included in your family tree are your relatives. What type of relationship do you have with your great siblings? The following definitions will throw more light:

  • Children of your great-great aunts and uncles are your first cousins twice-removed
  • The grandchildren are your second cousins once-removed
  • Their great-grandchildren are your third cousins

The majority do not have the privilege to know their family tree. If you can trace any of your third-generation relatives that we are targeting in this article, then you are on the lucky side of the divide. 

How to Become a Great Uncle

How do you become a great uncle? We shall first define the great uncle. If you have a male born that is a sibling of your grandparents, then he is an uncle to you. When it gets to the third generation of your great-grandparents, then you have him as your great-uncle. When you find yourself in your family tree in relation to any of the siblings registered on the tree, then you are a great-uncle. In clear terms, the great uncle is the child of your grandparents from whom you are descended. 

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What is the Relationship of the Siblings of Your Grandparents to You?

The knowledge of the family tree is very interesting and it helps to create bonding between distant generations in the family tree. How is my great uncle’s son related to me? In answer to this technical question, you are the great uncle to the grandchildren of your full and half-siblings. You are closer to your parents (because you are directly descended from them); your parents are in the position of great-grandparents to your great-nephews. 

What is the Relationship Between the Siblings of your Grandparents’ Siblings?

 The siblings of your grandparents are considered your great-aunts and great-uncles in the family tree.  It might interest you to know that you share a great amount of DNA with these people.  Having a relationship with your great-uncles will bring back fond memories of your grandparents. You are going to get first-hand information about your family tree through them and it will help boost the bond of relationship within the family. 

The Definition of a Half-Great-Uncle or Aunt

Is it a great uncle or grand uncle? Whether you call it great or grand; it refers to the third generation of people that are found on your family tree. The half-great uncle or aunt comes into the picture if your grandparent has a half-sibling in their line. The half-siblings of your parents are your half-great uncle if he is a male or half-great aunt if she is a female. You share a common ancestor with your half-great uncle; that is the parent that is shared between your grandparent and their sibling

what is a great uncle

Let us give an illustration that will simply answer the question: how is my great uncle’s son related to me? When your great-grandparents married and they have your grandparents and there is a divorce in the union; each party will go their separate ways. If your great-grandmother remarries and gave part in her new marriage to your grandparent; the picture of your great-great-grandmother will come into play.  She becomes the common ancestor that is shared between you and your half-great uncle. 

The above example is a little complex. In the event that the half-sibling is a female, then she is your half–great uncle. 

The Mathematics of Your Next Family Reunion

So far, we have taken time to deeply answer the question: what is a great grand uncle? The table below shows how to calculate mathematically with a high degree of accuracy for your next family reunion. The source is credit millennium mathematics. 

Relationship to you Relationship Coefficient
Yourself 1
Identical twins 1
Parent, child ½
Grandparent, grandchild ¼
Great-grandparent, great-grandchild 1/8
nth descendant or level ancestor 1/2n
Sibling (brother or sister) ½
Half-sibling ¼
Aunt, uncle ¼
Nephew, niece ¼
Great aunt, great niece 1/8
Great nephew, great niece 1/8
First cousin 1/8
First-cousin-once-first-removed 1/16
Second- cousin 1/32
Second-cousin-once-removed 1/64
Third cousin 1/128
Nth cousin 1/2n+1
Nth cousin, m times removed 1/2n+1+m+1
Stranger 0


The first column represents the nature of your relationship. This is followed by the adjacent column that represents the relationship coefficient. The coefficient for self and identical twins is 1.  It is half for parents and their direct children. The data can be used to trace distant relations to any generation that we so desired.

Final Thought

We have left no stone unturned in answering the question: what is a great uncle? In the UK, the word commonly used is great. While in the US and of late, the slogan commonly in use is grand uncle. It might interest you to know that the two words refer to the same thing. It is referring to the third generation in the family three. The male is referred to as the great-uncle while the female in line is known as the great-aunt. The answer to the question: what is a great aunt or uncle has been delivered through this article. It is a more dignified form of using the phrase: great uncle because of the repetition of words. This will save us from a lot of confusion that will set in when the word great is repeated more than one time together. 

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What is a Great Uncle?

A Great Uncle is the brother of one of your grandparents. They are part of your extended family and are connected to you through your family tree.

How is a Great Uncle different from a regular Uncle?

A Great Uncle is a generation older than your immediate parents’ siblings. They are the sibling of your grandparent, while a regular Uncle is the brother of one of your parents.

Can a Great Uncle be related by marriage?

Yes, a Great Uncle can be related by blood or marriage. If they are married to the sibling of one of your grandparents, they still hold the title of a Great Uncle.

What role does a Great Uncle play in the family?

A Great Uncle often serves as a link to family history, passing down stories, traditions, and wisdom. They bring a sense of connection and nostalgia to family gatherings, enriching the family bond across generations.

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