Family Avuncles and Niblings: Unusual words for the family By Aaron July 24, 2014 Share Share Copy Link Have you spoken to your avuncle lately? How are your niblings doing? Depending on age and gender, some languages have specific words to describe a family member. While the English language is more limited and sticks to known words such as dad, mom, brother and sister, in the past other words were used to describe those in our family tree. Image credit: Burlington Iowa Public Library Here are five unusual words used to describe family members. To see the full list, check out the article on Mental Floss 1. AVUNCLE Your mother’s brother. Patruus, father’s brother, and avunculus, mother’s brother are differentiated in Latin. The word’s root comes from “avuncular,” meaning “having to do with uncles” or “uncle-like.” There was also amita, father’s sister, and matertera, mother’s sister. 2. NIBLINGS Your nieces and nephews. This term seemed to be gaining more popularity to collectively refer to nieces and nephews, similar to siblings. 3. FADU Your father’s sister. In Latin, amita covers this relationship, but in Old English there was also a distinction between aunts and uncles depending on whether they were maternal or paternal. 4. DOUBLE COUSIN When a pair of sisters marries a pair of brothers, their children are full cousins who share all four grandparents. 5. EAM Your mother’s brother. It survived in some dialects as “eme,” with a more general meaning of uncle or friend, into the 19th century. Do you have any words that you use to describe your family? Let us know in the comments below.