Genealogy Glossary

There are many words and phrases used in genealogy that we sometimes do not see or use in every day life. To succeed in genealogy, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with them. Listed here are just some of the many words and phrases you may come across during your genealogical research. There is also a list of sites that offer more comprehensive genealogy glossaries.

Ahnentafal: A table of someone’s ancestors in which a numbering system is used. This word derives from the the German Ahnen meaning ancestor, and Tafel meaning table.

Ancestor: Any person that someone is descended from. This could mean parents, but in genealogy, an ancestor typically begins with great-grandparents. See more information about what an ancestor is in my post here.

Baptism: A Christian ceremony in which a person becomes a member of a certain church. A baptismal certificate is often created when a baptism occurs to document the event.

Bounty Land: Land that was given to soldiers as payment for their military services.

CG: Certified genealogist.

Collateral Ancestor: An ancestor who a person is not directly descended from.

Cousin: The child of an aunt or uncle. See my post where I explain cousins for more information.

Descendent: A person who is directly related to a certain ancestor. This includes a grandchild, great grandchild, 2nd-great grandchild, and so on.

Emigration: Leaving one’s country of origin to reside in another.

Enumerator: Census taker. They record people and families of censuses.

Family Tree: A diagram showing ancestors and descendents.

GEDCOM: Stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunications. Ths is the standard format used in genealogy programs.

Genealogy: Study of a person’s descent and origin.

Illegitimate: A child born to parents who are not married. Sometimes referred to as a bastard.

Immigration: Moving to a new country.

LDS: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They have spent years microfilming genealogical records, and allow others to access these records for free.

Marriage Banns: A couple’s announcement to marry. This often took place a few weeks prior to the marriage.

Pedigree: A chart of a person’s direct decadency for a certain number of generations.

Soundex: A filing system for surnames, using one letter followed by three numbers. It is used to help locate ancestors using variant spellings of a surname.

Other Genealogy Glossary Resources:

Genealogy.com: Glossary of Genealogical Terms

PBS.org: Genealogy Glossary

Stark County District Library: Genealogy Glossary

Cyndi’s List: Genealogy Glossary Links and Resources