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Uncle (from Latin: avunculus 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, or brother-in-law of one's parent. The specific terms for the last two respectively are half-uncle and uncle-in-law which can refer also to the husband of one's aunt. 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 great-uncle (sometimes written as great uncle, grand-uncle or granduncle) is the brother, half-brother, or brother-in-law of one's grandparent.

A male cousin of one's parent is often addressed as "uncle" instead of "cousin".

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, "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]

Uncles in popular culture[edit]

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 comics[edit]

Fictional uncles in novels[edit]

Vernon Dursley a.k.a "Uncle Vernon" The uncle in-law of the protagonist of Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

Fictional uncles in films[edit]

Fictional uncles in TV series[edit]

Fictional uncles in advertising[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lank Leonard". lambiek.net.

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