Open main menu

Uncle (from Latin: avunculus the diminutive of avus "grandfather") is a male family relationship or kinship within an extended or immediate family. Uncles are second-degree relatives and share 25% genetic overlap when they are the full brother of one of the biological parents. An uncle is the brother of one's parent. An half-uncle is the half-brother of one's parent. "Uncle-in-law" can refer to the husband of one's aunt (sister of one's parent) or uncle of one's spouse. A biological uncle is a second degree male relative and shares 25% genetic overlap. However people who are not a biological uncle are sometimes affectionately called as an uncle as a title of admiration and respect.

A woman with the equivalent relationship of an uncle is an aunt. The reciprocal relationship to both of these is that of a nephew or niece.

A grand-uncle[1][2] or granduncle[3] or great-uncle[4] is the brother of one's grandparent. Half-great-uncle or half-granduncle is the half-brother of one's grandparent. Great-uncle-in-law or granduncle-in-law is the husband of one's great-aunt or grandaunt (sister of one's grandparent). Great-uncle-in-law or granduncle-in-law and can also be great-uncle or granduncle of one's spouse.

A great-great-uncle or great-granduncle is the brother of one's great-grandparent. A half-great-great-uncle or half-great-granduncle is the half-brother of one's great-grandparent.

A cousin-uncle is the name for your parents male cousin. As they are in first degree relatives to your parents they become a second degree relative to you as you are the generation below your parents. They are called uncle simply because they lie a generation above you. Their child would be called in reference to yourself, your second cousin as they are on your generation level.


Alternate usesEdit

A male cousin of one's parent is sometimes, though technically incorrectly, addressed as "uncle" instead of "cousin".

Cultural variationsEdit

In some cultures and families, children may refer to the cousins of their parents as "aunt" or "uncle". It is also a title of respect for elders (for example older cousins, neighbours, acquaintances, close family friends, and even sometimes total strangers). Using the term in this way is a form of fictive kinship. Aboriginal Australians have adopted the terms ‘uncle’ and ‘aunty’ as prefixes or titles of great respect. An Aboriginal individual who is titled ’Uncle’ or ’Aunty’ to an audience beyond their community is considered an elder of the community and a person of great knowledge or importance.

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 language, "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.


Uncles and aunts are considered important in modern Irish culture and are usually chosen to be godfather or godmother of children during Catholic baptism. A young Irish person might seek the counsel of their favourite aunt or uncle before making an important decision, and the opinion of the respective aunt or uncle is treated seriously.[citation needed]

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

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 definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Definition of grand-uncle in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  5. ^ "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