terminology: sibling of son-in-law or daughter-in-law

The question as posted reads:

Is there a term for the sibling of ones son-in-law or daughter-in-law? Real-life example: The composer Dohnanyi had a son who married a sister of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So Dohnanyi was the father of Bonhoeffer's brother-in-law, or the father-in-law of Bonhoeffer's sister. Is there an accepted term for this relationship?

To me there's a big difference between the question like the one above, and a question which finds a specific term in a document and asks how it should be interpreted.

The "what do you call it?" question is a question that a field linguist would ask an informant. The "what does senior/junior mean in this context?" question is a question a client would ask a genealogist.

Here's a new wrinkle:

What is relationship of widower to late wife's family (i.e. in-laws)?

Our guidelines say "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face."

The scenario in the question -- determining what the relationship is -- may be a problem that needs to be solved 100 years from now, but is it a problem now? This is a legal/social question. Is it a question for us? The genealogical relationship between all the parties does not change because one of the family members dies. The wife's parents are still the grandparents of the grandparents; the husband is still the son-in-law of the wife's parents for the date range they were married. The only thing that changes as far as the genealogical record is concerned is that the date range for a marriage has an end date, due to one of the parties being deceased.

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, I don't think they're off-topic -- but I do think we need a 'canonical' "How do I find out the English term for the relationship between two members of my extended family?" which is answered by reference to Steve Morse's calculator.

Then all the others can be pointed to the canonical question and closed as duplicates.

  • I'm hoping genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/6818/… may fulfil the role you envisaged for such a canonical Q&A - I made it Community Wiki so that we can all contribute new answers and improvements to the existing question and answer(s).
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 9:16

It is probably not practical to do this, but I wish we could put a section in dont-ask or in the tag wiki that explicitly says relationship-mapping questions for living individuals is off-topic unless the questioner is working a DNA problem.

Take a look at the most recent question which has been tagged this way:


I would say that this is a misuse of the relationship-mapping tag. If a person is the spouse of your husband's cousin, the "relationship mapping" is answered in the act of writing the question -- there's no mystery about how the two people are related.

This is not a research question -- this is a chat topic.

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