Anthropologists often find themselves gravitating toward debate and litigation as telling moments in cultural life. For what may be as inter esting as the positions being defended are the cultural resources people bring to their aid-analogies and tropes to make the persuasive point, new properties forced onto old concepts. Debate and litigation offer present-day materials for my own exposition.1 However, I also have a question about emergent properties and new claims from the early modern English-speaking world. The question is what made the English at that time endow the words relation and relative with the property of kinship-kinship by blood and marriage, that is. At the least, I hope to show why it might be of interest to ask. The reasons for that begin and end in the present, and I sandwich the historical issue between recent ones. This tracking back and forth will mimic the way in which kinship appears and disappears as a cultural resource for thinking about relations.