Cater Cousins + Matrikin
Happy Family Day from B.C. What are some historic or lesser-used words to describe the world of relatives?
A family line through the paternal side
A grandmother. Also, we must note, a nasty old name for an ‘unattractive, unfriendly aged’ woman.
A fourth – or ‘quatre’ cousin. The phase has come to mean a close friend, almost like family.
We see it used in Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’. Says Gobbo: ‘His master and he, saving your worship’s reverence, are scarce cater-cousins’.
Related through blood, not through marriage
Two cousins – often of different genders – whose parents are differently gendered siblings.
An adjective for the maternal side of the family.
Those who share both sets of grandparents, e.g.if one set of twins married another pair of twins. Their kids are…
Grandam + Grandsire
The Bard is back, this time with a reference to Grandmother + Grandfather. In ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’, for instance, we see:
Shallow: Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?
Evans: Ay, and her father is make her a pretty penny.
Grand-niece, nephew, or nibling
Still used, and misunderstood by many of us. The children of your nieces, nephews, or niblings.
Listed – along with ‘Mama’ – as a ‘fond word for mother’ in Samuel Johnson’s
Relatives, or kin, on your mother’s side
Related through the mother’s side
The sister of your mother
Your sibling’s child. A gender-neutral term
An adjective related to stepmotherhood
Relatives, or kin, on your father’s side
Related through the father’s side
An adjective for the paternal side of the family
Step-mother. We turn again to Shakespeare. Here, in Act 1, Scene 1 of ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’:
‘The old moon wanes! She lingers my desires
Like to a stepdame or a dowager
Long withering out a young man’s revenue’.
Header Photo: John Moeses Bauan