build word pow er in al l subject areas
Anthropologists have devoted decades to studying various cultures and
the many ways they deﬁne family relationships. For example, in China, there
are different words for older brother and younger brother. But in traditional
Hawaiian families, there are only two categories: parent and child. Thus, a
child refers to all the females of the parents’ generation as mother and all the
males as father. All brothers and male cousins are called brother, and all sisters
and female cousins are known as sister. Furthermore, in many Spanish-speaking
families, the word mamais used to describe any female, regardless of the fam-
Following is a list of words referring to families and their various rela-
tionships. Knowing these words will deﬁnitely increase your word power,
and may help you think about your own family in new and interesting ways.
WORDS ABOUT FAMILIES
1. ancestor. A person from whom one is descended, especially if
more remote than a grandparent. Our ancestors who lived two or
three generations ago were much smaller in both height and weight,
as were those who lived millions of years before.
2. descendant. A person, animal, or plant that comes from a speciﬁc
ancestor. We can even use the word in relation to nonliving
things. The automobile is the descendant of the horse-and-buggy.
3. dynasty. A sequence of rulers from the same family, such as the
Ming Dynasty in Chinese history, or a family notable for a par-
ticular quality, such as wealth. The Adams family, which con-
tributed two presidents and several important authors to our country,
can surely be termed a true American dynasty.
4. family tree. A chart showing the ancestry, descent, and relation-
ship of all members of a family. Our family tree proves the theory
of genetics: way more than half of us have red hair and green eyes.
5. genealogy. A record of the descent of a person, family, or group
from an ancestor or ancestors; or the study of family histories.
The Internet has provided a useful tool for individuals seeking to
investigate their genealogical roots.
6. generation. Generally, the entire number of people born and liv-
ing at about the same time; technically, the period of 30 years
accepted as the average between the birth of parents and the
birth of their offspring. People call those born between 1965 and
1976 Generation X; is there a name for your generation yet?