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fictive kin

Definition of Fictive Kin

(noun) A kinship based on social agreements such as friendship instead of adoption, blood (consanguinity), or marriage (affinity) that creates a relationship “like family.”

Example of Fictive Kin

  • Quinn and Harley met in Spain while attending a university and got married. Quinn is from the United States, and Harley is from Australia. Quinn and Harley made new friends with Elliot and Kelley in their adopted country. Elliot and Kelley became their fictive kin and godparents to Quinn and Harley’s child.

Fictive Kin Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: fic·tive kin

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /fIk-tiv kIn/
  • British English – /fIk-tiv kIn/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English: /ˈfɪktɪv ˈkɪn/
  • British English: /ˈfɪktɪv ˈkɪn/

Usage Notes

  • Fictive kin are people who are treated “like family.”
  • Fictive kin are often described as the “family of choice” or the “family you choose.”
  • Ritual kinship is a type of fictive kinship established through a ritual such as “blood brothers” or choosing godparents for a child.

Related Quotations

Additional Information

Related Terms


Rapp, Rayna. 1987. “Toward a Nuclear Freeze?: The Gender Politics of Euro-American Kinship Analysis,” Pp. 119–31 in Gender and Kinship: Essays Toward a Unified Analysis, edited by J. F. Collier and S. J. Yanagisako. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Weston, Kath. 1997. Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship. Rev. ed. New York: Columbia University Press.

Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

Barnard, Alan, and Jonathan Spencer, eds. 2010. Routledge Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. 2nd ed. London, England: Routledge.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Darity, William A. 2008. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Vol. 2. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA.

Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Ritzer, George, ed. 2007. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Scott, Jacquelyn Thayer, Judith Treas, and Martin Richards, eds. 2007. The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cite the Definition of Fictive Kin

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “fictive kin.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 18, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/fictive-kin/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

fictive kin. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/fictive-kin/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “fictive kin.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/fictive-kin/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“fictive kin.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 18 Jun. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/fictive-kin/>.