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An aunt and her niece in Tigray, Ethiopia
Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil (right) with her nephew Prince Pedro Augusto sitting on her lap. At left, Isabel's sister Princess Leopoldina holding her son Prince Augusto Leopoldo, c. 1868

An aunt is a woman who is a sibling of a parent or married to a sibling of a parent. Aunts who are related by birth are second-degree relatives. Alternate terms include auntie or aunty. Children in other cultures and families may refer to the cousins of their parents as aunt or uncle due to the age and generation gap. The word comes from Latin: amita via Old French ante and is a family relationship within an extended or immediate family.

The male counterpart of an aunt is an uncle, and the reciprocal relationship is that of a nephew or niece. The gender-neutral term pibling, a shortened form of parent's sibling, may refer to either an aunt or an uncle.[1]

Aunts by generation


  • A half-aunt is a half-sister of a parent.
  • A great-aunt[2][3] or grandaunt[4] (sometimes written grand-aunt[5]) is the sister of one's grandparent.

Genetics and consanguinity

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Aunts by birth (sister of a parent) are related to their nieces and nephews by 25%. As half-aunts are related through half-sisters, they are related by 12.5% to their nieces and nephews. Non-consanguineous aunts (female spouse of a relative) are not genetically related to their nieces and nephews.

Cultural variations

In some cultures, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, respected senior members of the community, often also referred to as Elders, are addressed as "uncle" (for men) and "aunt" for women, as a mark of seniority and respect, whether related or not,[6][7] such as Aunty Kathy Mills.[8]

In several cultures, no single inclusive term describing both a person's kinship to their parental female sibling or parental female in-law exists. Instead, there are specific terms describing a person's kinship to their mother's female sibling, and a person's kinship to their father's female sibling, per the following table:[citation needed]

Terms for aunt
Language Mother's sister Father's sister
Albanian teze hallë
Kurdish Xaltîk (IPA: xɑːltiːk) Metik (IPA: mɛtɪk)
Arabic خالة (khālah) عمّة (ʿammah)
Bengali খালা (khala) ফুফু (phuphu)
Hindi Mausi Bua
Korean 이모 (Imo) 고모 (Gomo)
Marathi Mavashi Aatya
Persian (خاله)khaleh (عمّه)ammeh
Polish ciotka (diminutive: ciocia) stryjna (diminutive: stryjenka)
Swedish moster faster
Turkish teyze hala

In popular culture

Aunts in popular culture have not always been portrayed as positive roles. Childless aunts are often subjected to othering in popular culture and presented as exotic or as having a second-best role, with motherhood preferred.[9]

Aunt Flo is a popular euphemism referring to the menstrual cycle.

An agony aunt is a colloquial term for a female advice columnist.

Fictional aunts include:

See also


  1. ^ Straussman, Min (2021). "Piblings & Niblings: Do You Know These Words For Aunts, Uncles, Nieces, & Nephews?". Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Definition of great-aunt in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Archived from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer of relative versions of name". Google Ngram. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Grandaunt definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Definition of grand-aunt in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Archived from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Communicating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Audiences". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia). 23 February 2016.
  7. ^ Browning, Daniel (14 September 2022). "'I called him Uncle': Remembering iconic theatre great Uncle Jack Charles". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  8. ^ Mills, Aunty Kathy. "You belong to my heart". Spun: True Stories Told in the Territory. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  9. ^ Jones, Anna. "'Aunt with no kids': The women redefining family roles". Retrieved 2021-12-13.
  • The dictionary definition of aunt at Wiktionary
  • The dictionary definition of grandaunt at Wiktionary
  • The dictionary definition of great-aunt at Wiktionary
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