In the lineal kinship system used in the English-speaking world, a niece or nephew is a child of the subject's sibling or sibling-in-law. The converse relationship, the relationship from the niece or nephew's perspective, is that of an aunt or uncle. A niece is female, while a nephew is male, with the term nibling used in place of the gender specific niece and nephew in some specialist literature.
The word nephew is derived from the French word neveu which is derived from the Latin nepotem. The term nepotism, meaning familial loyalty, is derived from this Latin term. Niece entered Middle English from the Old French word nece, which also derives from Latin nepotem. The word nibling is a neologism suggested by Samuel Martin in 1951 as a cover term for "nephew or niece"; it is not common outside of specialist literature. Sometimes in discussions involving analytic material or in abstract literature, terms such as male nibling and female nibling are preferred to describe nephews and nieces respectively. Terms such as nibling are also sometimes viewed as a gender-neutral alternative to terms which may be viewed as perpetuating the overgenderization of the English language.
These French-derived terms displaced the Middle English nyfte, nift, nifte, from Old English nift, from Proto-Germanic *niftiz (“niece”); and the Middle English neve, neave, from Old English nefa, from Proto-Germanic *nefô (“nephew”).
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In social environments that lacked a stable home or environments such as refugee situations, uncles and fathers would equally be assigned responsibility for their sons and nephews.
Among parents, some cultures have assigned equal status in their social status to daughters and nieces. This is, for instance, the case in Indian communities in Mauritius, and the Thai Nakhon Phanom Province, where the transfer of cultural knowledge such as weaving was distributed equally among daughters, nieces and nieces-in-law by the Tai So community, and some Garifuna people that would transmit languages to their nieces. In some proselytizing communities the term niece was informally extended to include non-related younger female community members as a form of endearment. Among some tribes in Manus Province of Papua New Guinea, women's roles as sisters, daughters and nieces may have taken precedence over their marital status in social importance.
- A niece-in-law or nephew-in-law is the spouse of one's nephew/niece, or the niece of one's spouse.
- A co-niece-in-law or co-nephew-in-law is the spouse of one's niece-in-law or nephew-in-law.
- A sororal niece or sororal nephew is the child of one's sister.
- A fraternal niece or fraternal nephew is the child of one's brother.
- A half-niece or half-nephew is the child of one's half-sibling, related by 12.5%.
In some cultures and family traditions, it is common to refer to cousins with one or more removals to a newer generation using some form of the word niece or nephew. For more information see cousin. For instance:
- A niece or nephew sometimes refers to a first cousin once-removed.
- A cousin-niece and cousin-nephew or a second niece and second nephew refers to a first cousins once removed.
In archaic terminology, a maternal nephew is called a sister-son, emphasizing the importance as a person's nearest male relative should he have no brothers or sons of his own. Sister-son is used to describe some knights who are nephews to King Arthur and is imitated by J. R. R. Tolkien, especially in lists of Kings of Rohan or dwarves where the sister-son is also heir. Sister-daughter is a less common parallel term for niece.
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|Look up niece, nephew, or nibling in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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