German Language Blog

The Curiosity of the German Word “Cousin” Posted by on Mar 23, 2017 in Culture, Language

Hi everybody! Welcome to another post that looks at the curiosity of a certain word. Today, we will have a look at the German word cousin. Check out the video below that explains the post, if you prefer watching instead of reading!


Cousin looks very un-German. Because it is. It was adapted to German from the 13th century Middle English cosin, which was again adapted from Old French cousin. So, it is essentially French. Germans also write it like the French: der Cousin and die Cousine.

Nothing curious about this. But let’s get to the pronunciation.

How to pronounce it?

This is where it gets different from French. Whereas often words borrowed from another language are pronounced the same as in the source language, there are some differences here.

Not so much with der Cousin. The French le cousin becomes der Cousin, which sound the same. Hear it in the video above.

But with the female variant, there are some differences. Where in French, the final -e is silent, it is pronounced in German. So, the last bit of die Cousine is pronounced similar to die Rosine. 

Is there another word for Cousin?

Yes, there is! The actual German word for cousin is der Vetter. This form is used quite a lot, too. The female form, however, is barely ever used. I did not even know it existed, before I found out by researching it for this post. It is: die Vetterin. Quite straightforward, but it looks and sounds so odd.

Apart from meaning cousin, Vetter or Vetterin can also be used for a distant relative.

In general, though, der Cousin and die Cousine are used most of the time, though.

I hope this post was helpful for you to improve your German! Is there a German word that you find curious? Let me know in the comments, and I can make a post about it!


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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Doris fraser:

    Thank you and receive vs recieve. See error.

  2. Brigitta Lake:

    Die weibliche Form fuer Cousine ist und war Base,
    diese weibliche Form hoert man kaum noch. Sie
    ist nur noch in aelteren deutschen Romanen zu finden.

  3. jamey:

    sehr gut.

  4. Carlos R Barron:

    Great Job I really enjoyed the worrd cousin and an its roost from the French du bist ein gute Lehrer
    Carlos ich whonne in Antioch,CA

  5. Cecilia:

    Interesting post (y)! As I lived in Austria, I was also surprised of the word ‘Portmonee’ that some German speaking people use to refer to the wallet or ‘Geldtasche’ (which is actually the German word for it).


    • Sten:

      @Cecilia Thank you!

      That is a great point! I will look into it 🙂

  6. Joseph T. Madawela: