The kinship term, cousin - often familiarly abbreviated as coz or cuz - is very much broader in its Shakespearean use in than we find today. In modern English, it is primarily used for the relationship between the children of brothers and sisters (first cousins), with some extension permitted, such as for the children of first cousins (second cousins, or cousins once removed) and their children. But in Shakespeare we find it used for virtually any relative beyond the immediate family, both for blood relatives and relatives through marriage, and often as a term of affection between socially equal people who are not relatives at all, such as monarchs of different countries.
Example Speaker and addressee Text Relationship
AYL I.iii.40 Duke Frederick to Rosalind You, cousin Rosalind is his niece
R2 I.ii.46 Duchess of Gloucester to John of Gaunt Our cousin Hereford Hereford is her nephew
Ham III.ii.102 Claudius to Hamlet How fares our cousin Hamlet? Hamlet is his stepson
R3 II.ii.8 Duchess of York to Clarence’s children My pretty cousins The children are her grandchildren
TN I.v.123 Olivia to Feste, of Sir Toby seek the crowner, and let him sit o’ my coz Sir Toby is her uncle
1H4 III.i.49 Mortimer to Hotspur Peace, cousin Percy Hotspur is his brother-in-law
1H4 III.i.53 Glendower to Hotspur I can teach you, cousin, to command the devil Hotspur is his son-in-law’s sister’s husband
1H4 I.i.31 King Henry to Westmoreland my gentle cousin Westmoreland’s wife is Henry’s half-sister
RJ III.i.113 Romeo to himself, after marrying Juliet Tybalt, that an hour / Hath been my cousin Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin
1H6 IV.i.114 King to Richard and Somerset Good cousins both They are kinsmen through different marriages of Henry’s great-grandfather
TNK I.i.222 Theseus to Pirithous Cousin, I charge you They are long-standing comrades



Jump directly to