morddwyd 11:44 16 Jun 2010

Like most people I have lots of cousins, but two of them, and only two, from totally unconnected sides of the family, are invariably referred to, both directly and indirectly as "Cousin".

Could any student of etymology or English usage tell me by what nuance of language the family refer, and talk, to Cousin Margaret and Cousin Winifred, rather than Margaret or Winifred?

  Quickbeam 11:56 16 Jun 2010

Isn't it just an old fashioned form of address to say cousin? I just call mine by their names.

  wee eddie 11:58 16 Jun 2010

occasional Aunties.

It gives someone close to the family, but not really part of the family, a formal position. Rather in the same way that many French Families have 'petite cousin' which seems to refer to a very tenuous relationship but which gives that person 'family' privileges.

That doesn't really answer your question but may point a way to the answer.

  Þ² 12:13 16 Jun 2010

My inlaws always write their cards like that and it's so strange to me.

Like a father's day card for example:

Front of card reads "for Dad on Father's day" they'll then proceed to write on the inside

"To Dad from son John"

Erm, they know what relation you are, no need to state the obvious... it gets funny when it's between sisters on birthdays.

To Sister Laura from Sister Anne.

I didn't know there was nuns in the family.

  QuizMan 12:34 16 Jun 2010

As it states on the accompanying link click here there must be an ancestor who is common to both individuals for them to be referred to correctly as a cousin.

  morddwyd 12:59 16 Jun 2010

These are proper first cousins, among at least twenty.

One who is younger than my sister, is the daughter of my mother's brother. She is always referred to as Cousin Margaret.

Even if we are talking to her her we call her Cousin Margaret, not just Margaret.

The other is the daughter of my father's brother.

She is invariably Cousin Winifred.

  QuizMan 17:48 16 Jun 2010

That makes them both first cousins, does it not? Perhaps you should now call them first cousin Margaret/Winifred to clear up any doubt.

  morddwyd 19:40 16 Jun 2010

Maybe so, but why only those two first cousins out of the twenty or more that I have got.

Regardless of what they are called why are those two, in particular, called anything different?

  jack 19:57 16 Jun 2010

There is/was the custom of calling sons after father and daughters after mother 0r favourite aunt or uncle
Addressing the individual by their prefix sorts out the aunts and uncles from nieces nephews and cousins.

  jack 20:05 16 Jun 2010

Where the child addressed the next door neighbour as 'Uncle' George- fair enough I guess for tots
Recently the daughter joined in a conversation with her mother - George and my self and addressed him as 'Uncle George'
Said daughter is now in her forties- very strange

Conversely- whilst my children addressed me as 'Dad'
My wife insisted she be called be her first name and not 'mum' which among strange company caused a raised eyebrow or two- both daughters are now in their fifties - so it was a very strange thing to hear all those years ago

  morddwyd 08:00 17 Jun 2010

Perhaps a clue in your earlier post.

Cousin Margaret was the daughter of Auntie Margaret.

Cousin Winifred was the only Winifred in either family, but she was the one time principal of Cheltenham Ladies College and in those times it would not have been perhaps proper for young six or seven year olds to be calling such an august personage by her Christian name, no matter how justifiable!

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