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For other uses, see Uncle (disambiguation).
American children with their uncle at a pool

Uncle (from Latin: avunculus "little grandfather", the diminutive of avus "grandfather") is a male family relationship or kinship within an extended or immediate family. An uncle is the brother, half-brother, step-brother, or brother-in-law of one's parent. A biological uncle is a second degree male relative and shares 25% genetic overlap. However people that are not a biological uncle, are sometimes affectionally known 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 great-uncle (sometimes written as great uncle, grand-uncle or granduncle) is the brother or brother-in-law of one's grandparent.

Cultural variations[edit]

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, neighbors, acquaintances, close family friends, and even sometimes total strangers). Using the term in this way is a form of fictive kinship.

Albanian, Slavic, and Persian[edit]

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) or a person's kinship to their father's brother ("xhajë" in Albanian, "amou" in Persian). 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), and a person's kinship to their father's female sibling, ("hallë" in Albanian, "ammeh" in Persian).

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]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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