We have noticed a number of misuses of genealogy related words or terms on the Internet and in mainstream news media, especially when the words “ancestors” and “relatives” are being used interchangeably.
Following are some definitions of words and terms, sometimes as they are used when specifically discussing the Family Forest®, and sometimes as they are used in a broader sense.
Ancestor: a person from whom others are descended (The Random House College Dictionary). Important distinction: Your ancestors are only your parents, your parents’ parents, etc. While all of your aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and siblings are all your relatives, they are not your ancestors.
Ancestral pathway: a generation-by-generation linkage visually displayed leading from a person through a succession of ancestors to one of his or her more distant ancestors.
Cousin: a person related by descent in a diverging line from a known common ancestor; a kinsman or kinswoman (The Random House College Dictionary). Your cousins are people you share ancestors with. Your first cousins are people you share grandparents with.
Degrees of cousins:See an excellent explanation at Eastmans Online Genealogy Newsletter
Direct descendant: we do not understand this one. It is used frequently, but no one ever seems to use the term “indirect descendant.” It seems that one is either a descendant of someone, or not.
Kinship report: a computer-generated report for a particular person showing 1) names of people in the Family Forest® who are already lineage-linked to the particular person who is the subject of the report, and 2) the exact relationship of each of those people to the particular person who is the subject of the report.
Lineage-linked: being digitally attached to another person through blood or marriage, sometimes directly (such as parent to child or husband to wife) and sometimes through a long succession of generation-by-generation family ties that span many centuries.
Relative: a person who is connected with another or others by blood or marriage (The Random House College Dictionary). Important distinction: All of your ancestors are your relatives, but not all of your relatives are your ancestors.