Last year after spending time with my daughter’s in-laws I tired of having to use long phrases to describe the relationship to others. I’d say they are my daughter’s in-laws or my son-in-law’s parents. There isn’t an English term for our relationship to one another and the best option in English I could think of or find is a clunky phrase such as co-parents in-law. To help me understand my options, I did some research hoping for something better or at least something I like.
What I learned is that several other languages have a name for this relationship and many other relationships. Some languages have terms even for your sister’s husband and many others. For co-parents in-law here are 3 terms I found referenced most frequently:
- Consuegros is a Spanish term that means co-in-laws.
- Machatunim is a Yiddish term that means the parents of the person my child married. (I enjoyed Jason Feifer’s article item #3 under Further Reading below about this term)
- Sympatheroi (plural), sympethéra (feminine singular) and sympétheros (masculine singular) are Greek terms that mean co-parents in-law, co-mother in-law and co-father in-law. (I enjoyed Gary Matthews’ article item #7 under Further Reading below about what terms he found.)
The Greek term combines the role (co-mother or co-father) with the relationship (in-laws). I think that specifying the role clarifies the purpose we share for our children, my daughter and their son. I rather like that!
The English vocabulary is derived from several languages and we use foreign words every day often without realizing it. Take the video below, for example, which shows some of the Greek words we use in English.
I’d like to add at least a couple more to my vocabulary. Now, I just need to practice saying sympethéra!
- En.wiktionary.org. (2019). συμπεθέρα – Wiktionary. [online] Available at: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/συμπεθέρα#Greek [Accessed 25 Jun. 2019].
- “English Translation Of “Consuegro” | Collins Spanish-English Dictionary”. 2019. Collinsdictionary.Com. Accessed June 25 2019. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/spanish-english/consuegro
- Feifer, Jason “English Needs a Word for the Relationship Between Your Parents and Your In-Laws” Slate Magazine; Dec. 9, 2015. Accessed June 25 2019. https://slate.com/human-interest/2015/12/machatunim-co-in-laws-english-needs-a-word-for-the-relationship-between-parents-and-in-laws.html.
- Forums, Other, All Languages, and Confused Linguist. 2006. “Relations By Marriage”. Wordreference Forums. Accessed June 25 2019. https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/relations-by-marriage.194258/.
- “Is There A Word Meaning “My Child’s Spouse’s Parents”?”. English Language & Usage Stack Exchange. Accessed June 25 2019. https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/132129/is-there-a-word-meaning-my-childs-spouses-parents.
- “Machatunim – Everything2.Com”. 2002. Everything2.Com. Accessed June 25 2019. https://everything2.com/title/machatunim
- Matthews, Gary. 2016. “Your Relationship To The Parents Of Your Child’s Spouse”. Gary Matthews At Work. Accessed June 25 2019. https://garymatthews.com/2016/02/one-word-your-relationship-to-the-parents-of-your-childs-spouse/.
- Perlman, Merrill. “Next of Kin”, Language Corner. Columbia Journalism Review. Accessed June 25 2019. https://archives.cjr.org/language_corner/language_corner_november_decem.php.
- Pronunciation of “machetunim”. Bubbygram.com. Accessed June 25 2019. http://www.bubbygram.com/yiddish/machetunim.wav.
- “Reference Desk/Archives/Language/2008 March 2 – consuegros”. 2019. En.Wikipedia.Org. Accessed June 25 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Archives/Language/2008_March_2.
- “συμπεθέρα” – English Translation – Bab.La Greek-English Dictionary”. 2019. En.Bab.La. Accessed June 25 2019. https://en.bab.la/dictionary/greek-english/%CF%83%CF%85%CE%BC%CF%80%CE%B5%CE%B8%CE%AD%CF%81%CE%B1
- ‘συμπέθερος”, – English Translation – Bab.La Greek-English Dictionary”. 2019. En.Bab.La. Accessed June 25 2019. https://en.bab.la/dictionary/greek-english/%CF%83%CF%85%CE%BC%CF%80%CE%AD%CE%B8%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%BF%CF%82.
- “συν-γονείς”, Google Translate “. 2019. Translate.Google.Com. Accessed June 25 2019. https://translate.google.com/?biw=1547&bih=928&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&client=tw-ob#auto/el/co-parents+in+law.