Comedy·ALL RELATIVE

We need to find a collective noun for nieces and nephews

The average uncle uses 34 years of his life having to say both words.
(Shutterstock / FrameStockFootage)

I write to you today because we need a new word, folks.

We need a new word that allows me to greatly streamline the amount of time spent when I tell people about my niece and nephew.

Don't get me wrong: it's not because I don't love my niece and nephew. Precisely the opposite. I love them as much as is possible, and so I talk about them a lot.

The average uncle uses 34 years of his life having to say both words, and researchers have projected that I myself will use 97 years of my life doing so.

Which, that actually sounds pretty promising because it means I'm going to live a very long time, but still. Not the point.

Yes, things could have been simplified if my brother had done the right thing and had two boys or two girls, but what's done is done and I wouldn't trade my niece nor nephew — wow, wow, that takes even longer, with the nor — for the world.

All I'm asking for is a word.

I have seen a new word suggested for exactly this use in certain quarters, and that word is "niblings." Let's take a look at the pros and cons of this new term to describe a niece and nephew combined.

Pros: It only uses two syllables, a handy reduction of three syllables total.

Cons: It is a weird, nightmarish word. I demand that you never again use it in my presence. This is the end of the conversation regarding "niblings."

As would not seem to befit someone in my position as both an uncle and a writer, I'm afraid I can offer no suggestions. I am busy 78% of my day saying "my niece and nephew," a phrase I already worked very hard to shorten by removing the superfluous "my" in "my niece and my nephew." That's all that I can come up with, that's as far as I've gotten. I'm drained, and I'm also spending 21% of my day writing and 1% sleeping. There's just no time left in the day for me to come up with another way to say "my niece and nephew," and so I'm putting out the call to you, dear reader.

Any suggestions you have would be so deeply appreciated, and would leave me more time to spend with (deep breath) my niece and my nephew, which you will discover, should you be lucky enough to have a niece as well as a nephew eventually, is the ideal way to spend one's time in this life.

So please. Wrack your brains. You'll be doing a favour to both me and yourselves.

Hold on, there's got to be a quicker way to say "me and yourselves."

Oh, right, "us." Right, we already have that.

Okay, just get to work on the niece and nephew thing, then.

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About the Author

Jeremy has been a staff writer for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, performed stand-up comedy at the Just For Laughs and Winnipeg Comedy Festivals, and co-created/stars in the popular video series The Urbane Explorer/Finding Bessarion. A 3x Canadian Comedy Award–winner and published humour columnist, he also wrote your favourite joke, the one about the fish trying to get a job at a bank.