An uncle is usually defined as a male relative who is a sibling of a parent or married to a sibling of a parent. Uncles who are related by birth are second-degree relatives. The female counterpart of an uncle is an aunt, and the reciprocal relationship is that of a nephew or niece. The word comes from Latin: avunculus, the diminutive of avus (grandfather), and is a family relationship within an extended or immediate family.

In some cultures and families, children may also refer to the cousins of their parents uncle (or aunt). It is also used as a title of respect for older relatives, neighbours, acquaintances, family friends, and even total strangers in some cultures, for example Aboriginal Australian elders. Using the term in this way is a form of fictive kinship.

Additional termsEdit

Uncles by Generation
  • A half-uncle is the half-brother of one's parent.
  • Uncle-in-law can refer to the husband of one's aunt or uncle or the uncle of one's spouse. When referring to the husband of one's aunt the term uncle is usually used.
  • A great-uncle[1][2]/granduncle[3]/grand-uncle[4] is the brother of one's grandparent.

Genetics and ConsanguinityEdit

Uncles by birth (brother of a parent) are related to their nieces and nephews by 25%. As half-uncles are related through half brothers, they are related by 12.5%. Non consanguineous uncles (male spouse of a relative) are not related by blood.

Cultural variationsEdit


In Turkish, one's mother's brother is called dayi, father's brother is amca, and aunt's husband is known as eniste. There are also three separate names for aunts.[citation needed]

Albanian, Slavic, and PersianEdit

In some cultures, like Albanian, Slavic, or Persian, no single inclusive term describing both a person's kinship to their parental male sibling or parental male in-law exists. Instead, there are specific terms describing a person's kinship to their mother's brother (dajë in Albanian, daiyee in Persian, wuj (diminutive: wujek) in Polish) or a person's kinship to their father's brother (xhajë in Albanian, amou in Persian, stryj (diminutive: stryjek) in Polish). An analogous differentiation exists using separate terms to describe a person's kinship to their mother's female sibling (teze in Albanian, khaleh in Persian, ciotka (diminutive: ciocia) in Polish), and a person's kinship to their father's female sibling, (hallë in Albanian, ammeh in Persian, stryjna (diminutive: stryjenka) in Polish).

Furthermore, in Persian culture the terms used to describe a person's kinship to their maternal or paternal in-laws bear clear and unambiguous descriptions of that relationship, differentiating the parental in-laws from blood-relatives. For example, there is a specific term describing a person's kinship to the spouse of their paternal uncle (i.e. zan-amou, literally 'wife-of-' amou). This clarifies that kinship is to the spouse of the person's paternal male sibling, as opposed to a blood-relationship.

Indigenous AustraliansEdit

Many Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples address male respected senior members of the community, known as Elders, as "uncle" (and women as "aunty") as a mark of respect, whether related or not.[5]

South AsianEdit

In India, unambiguous names are used for various uncles such as father's brother chacha (or kaka). If the brother of your father is elder than your father then he is called Tauji ( or bapuji). Your mother's brother is called Mama. Your paternal aunt's husband is called Fufa (or Fuva) and your maternal aunt's husband is called Mausa (or Masa) in Hindi (or Gujarati).

Likewise, in neighbouring Bangladesh, mother's brother is also Mama as well father's brother as Chacha. A paternal aunt's husband is Phupha and maternal aunt's husband is Khalu.

Uncles in popular cultureEdit

Due to the loving image of an old but wise and friendly uncle in many cultures the word has been used as a loving nickname for many people. In Tibetan mythology Akhu Tönpa (Uncle Tompa) is a familiar and well-beloved figure. The American national personification Uncle Sam serves as an allegorical fatherly figure to many Americans. Various children's TV hosts have used uncle as their nickname, including Walt Disney (Uncle Walt), Bob Davidse (Nonkel Bob, literally Uncle Bob), Edwin Rutten (who hosted a children's show named De Show van Ome Willem (The Show of Uncle Willem). The Dutch poet Ome Ko also used uncle as part of his pseudonym.

Rich, wise or otherwise eccentric uncles are also popular in works of fiction.

Fictional uncles in comicsEdit

Fictional uncles in novelsEdit

Fictional uncles in filmsEdit

Fictional uncles in TV seriesEdit

Fictional uncles in advertisingEdit

Fictional uncles in musicEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Definition of great-uncle in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer of relative versions of name". Google Ngram. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  3. ^ "granduncle". HarperCollins. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Definition of grand-uncle in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Communicating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Audiences". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia). 23 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Lank Leonard".

External linksEdit

  •   The dictionary definition of uncle at Wiktionary
  •   The dictionary definition of great-uncle at Wiktionary
  •   The dictionary definition of granduncle at Wiktionary