Ancestry Close DNA Match: What It Means For You
When you take an Ancestry.com DNA test, or other DNA tests like 123andMe, you may get results that include matches to other users who have also taken that test.
(Check out the Origins Genealogy review of the 2 leading DNA tests: 23andMe and Ancestry)
Some might say “close DNA Match.” Let’s break down what an Ancestry close DNA match means. You can, of course, apply the same knowledge across other DNA testing platforms.
What Is a Close DNA Match?
If you have DNA results that let you know you have a close connection, but you don’t really know what that means, we want to help you.
In Ancestry’s results, you’ll see your matches listed with the amount of DNA that you share with each person. For example, you might see a match listed with information that looks something like this: 332 cM across 16 segments.
What does that string of information mean?
Interpreting DNA centimorgans from an Ancestry test
cM equals centimorgans. DNA experts use the term centimorgans to help show how much DNA is shared among genetic relatives.
The shared segments of DNA between matches are divided up into centimorgans, which is a single unit of genetic measurement.
Centimorgans measure genetic probability
Unlike other measurements we use such as inches or centimeters, centimorgans measure probability. At its most basic, the more centimorgans you share with someone, the closer the genetic link is between you.
How are Ancestry Close DNA Matches Determined?
A centimorgan tells you how much DNA you share with other genetic relatives. The tricky part is that there can be multiple genetic relationships that share a similar amount of DNA.
For example, a centimorgan range that is listed anywhere from 575 to 1330 centimorgans (or cM) might mean that DNA match is your first cousin, a half aunt, or your grandparent.
(DNA doesn’t match dad? Read our article about what happens when DNA reveals long-held family secrets)
Centimorgans and genetic closeness anomalies
Strange results can occur with genetic relatedness when you get an Ancestry close DNA match.
Sometimes a sibling’s test results show a match you both share as a different relationship than yours. For example, the same match could be listed as a 1st cousin to you, but a 2nd cousin to your sibling.
You shouldn’t worry if this happens. Because DNA is inherited randomly, even one of your full siblings may share a different amount of DNA with a close relative than you do.
Trying to place an Ancestry close match
Since there may be multiple genetic relationships possible when you share a close match, this is where family tree research comes in.
Any genealogical information you have can help solve the question of relationship. If you can contact the DNA match to compare family trees, the relationship is even easier to figure out.
What If I Have an Unknown Close DNA Match?
You may be shocked to learn that, aside from DNA matches that surprise you because you’re not related at all with that person, this is happening to people all over the world! Many people get their results, and have matches that are close, but they have no idea who the person is.
If this happens to you, you are not alone. Don’t get discouraged if you reach out to them and they do not answer. There are many people who take a DNA test and then rarely check their account afterwards, so it isn’t always easy to contact an unknown match to help you figure out the relationship.
Contacting a hard-to-reach close genetic match
If you have an unknown close DNA match who doesn’t respond to messages, don’t give up! There are still ways to find out who a mystery match is.
A skilled professional genealogy company can look over your information, help you figure out who the match is and how you may be related. At Origins Genealogy, we’re skilled at finding unknown matches. We can help!
Origins Genealogy: other services
Just getting started in genealogy? Our review of the best genealogy websites should point you in the right direction.
Curious about Irish genealogy? Our detailed step-by-step process on how to find your Irish ancestors should get you started.
Want to find your birth mom but don’t know where to begin? You can use our thorough guide to assist you.