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More on the great versus grand issue

Nearly six years ago, The Legal Genealogist definitively resolved the question of whether the child of a niece of nephew would be a grandniece or grandnephew or a great niece or great nephew.



Because the answer, of course, is yes.

Both are technically correct: Merriam-Webster defines “great-nephew” as “grandnephew,” giving a first usage year of 1580,1 and defines “grandnephew” as “a grandson of one’s brother or sister” giving a first usage year of 1596.2 My own family tends to use great niece and great nephew.3

But it’s when you go on beyond great and grand that you hit the issues. As reader Pat found when she was trying to figure out what to call the next generation: the child of that great or grand nephew.

And the answer really makes it clear why genealogists in general have tried to get recalcitrants like my family to standardize the usage. Because it all fits together if you use grand and not great:

greats and grands

It works just as well going up the generations: a child has a parent, a grandparent and a great grandparent in the direct line, and an aunt/uncle, a grandaunt/uncle and a great grandaunt/uncle in the collateral line.

So — on beyond great and grand, the grandchild of a niece or nephew is a great grandniece or great grandnephew.

Just don’t tell my family that the generation in between isn’t the greatest.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “On beyond great and grand,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 1 Feb 2021).


  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary ( : accessed 1 Feb 2021), “great-nephew.”
  2. Ibid., “grandnephew.”
  3. See Judy G. Russell, “Great versus grand,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 25 Feb 2015 ( : accessed 1 Feb 2021).
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