ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Stepsister or Half-Sister: What's the Difference

Updated on February 4, 2019
revmjm profile image

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.

"The Brady Brunch" was a blended family.
"The Brady Brunch" was a blended family.

It is definitely confusing when it comes to stating the relationship of children in a blended family. While the terms stepsister and half-sister are used interchangeably, they are indeed very different.

Stepsister (no hyphen) and half-sister (hyphen), are not the same. They indicate two different relationships.

  • A stepsibling is the daughter or son of a stepparent.
  • A half-sibling is a blood sister who shares one of the biological parents but not both.
  • Half-siblings are related, but stepsiblings are not related.
  • Stepchildren of a stepfather in a blended family are not blood related to the children of their stepmother.
  • Half-brothers and half-sisters share genetic data but stepbrothers and stepsisters don't.

That might be confusing. Perhaps you can understand it better by looking at some of large blended families as examples.

"The Brady Bunch"

More than likely, you are familiar with The Brady Bunch series that aired on ABC from September 26, 1969 to March 8, 1974.

The family consisted of six children. Mike Brady had three sons: Greg, Peter, and Bobby. He married Carol who had three lovely daughters: Marcia, Jan, and Cindy.

None of the children shared both parents so they were stepsisters and stepbrothers to one another.

If Mike and Carol had a baby girl together, then the baby would share both parents and would be a half-sister to the six older kids because the baby would share the girls’ mother and the boys’ father.

Another way to look at it is that your stepfather’s children are your stepsisters and brothers, and the same situation exists if you have a stepmother. There is no such thing as a half-mother or a half-father.

Let’s clarify it another way.

If two people marry with children from a previous marriage, those children will become stepchildren to each other because none of them share both parents. If the parents have a baby together, the baby would be a half-sibling of the older children.

Famous Half-Siblings

You have probably heard about Meghan Markle's family. They have been in the news a lot recently since Meghan is getting ready to marry Prince Harry, and the relatives are bitter because they have not been invited to the wedding.

Meghan's father already had two children when he married Meghan's mother. The two children became Meghan's half-siblings because they share the same father but not the same mother.

Some newspapers and television reports get it wrong because they use both words interchangeably.

Actor Donny Wahlberg is the eighth of nine children. His siblings are Arthur, Jim, Paul, Robert, Tracey, Michelle, and Debbie (died in 2003), and Mark.

When Donny's mother, Alma Elaine, married Donny's father, Donald Edmond Wahlberg, Sr. he already had three children from his first marriage, Donna, Scott, and Buddy. The children became Donny's half-siblings.

Kardashian and Jenner Girls. The older Jenner children from Bruce's first two marriages not pictured.
Kardashian and Jenner Girls. The older Jenner children from Bruce's first two marriages not pictured.

Kardashians and Jenner Children

What about the Kardashians and the Jenners? This is a very good example of half-siblings.

Robert Kardashians and Kris Kardashians (name at the time) had four children: Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Robert. After Robert Kardashian's death, Kris married Bruce Jenner (name at the time) who had four children of his own from two previous marriages: Burt and Casey with his first wife Chrystie Crownover and two sons, Brandon and Brody, from his marriage to Linda Thompson.

After Bruce and Kris married, the children created a blended family. This was the "Brady Brunch" scenario.

The Kardashian girls became stepchildren to Bruce and stepsiblings to Bruce's older children from his first two marriages. When Kris and Bruce had Kendall and Kylie Jenner, they became half-sisters to Kris' older children.

Half-siblings are related, but stepsiblings are not related.

A half-sibling is related by blood through one of the biological parents.

Stepfather and Stepmother

It is easier to understand about stepfathers and stepmothers because there are no half fathers and half mothers.

When a man marries a woman with children, he becomes a stepfather and the woman's children become his stepchildren. When a woman marries a man with children, she becomes a stepmother and his children become her stepchildren.

Example of stepbrother and half-brother

This is a good example of both a stepbrother an a half-brother.

Harold has a son Raymond from his wife ex-wife Marva.

Harold marries Shirley who already has a son Samuel from her marriage with David.

A son is born to Harold and Shirley who they name Leonard.

Raymond and Samuel are stepbrothers. (They do not share blood)

Raymond and Leonard are half-brothers. (They share half the blood from Harold and half the blood from Shirley).

Some stepsiblings or half-siblings do not use either of those terms. If they grew up in the same house with a biological mother and a stepfather, they still refer to the other children as their sister and brother and do not use the terms "step" or "half" at all.

Steve Harvey's blended family.
Steve Harvey's blended family.

One Blended Family

Comedian Steve Harvey had four children from two marriages before he married Marjorie Bridges who had three children of her own.

Harvey had three children with his first wife Marcia, twin girls Karli and Brandi, and son Steven, Jr. He and his second wife, Mary Shackelford, had one son named Wynton.

To avoid the terms, step-siblings and half-siblings, Harvey calls all seven children his own without making any distinction with them at all.

Are you confused about stepsiblings and half-siblings?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Some may think mundane. We think it love.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Eric, the relationships can be confusing. I am from a blended family, but we do not make a distinction. We are all sisters and brothers and never refer to one another as stepsisters and stepbrothers or half-sisters and half-brothers.

      Sometimes the English language can be confusing much like driving on a parkway and parking in a driveway. There are many more examples which just gave me inspiration for another article. Look out for it.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well I will be. Never gave it a second's notice.

      Mine is a bit different in thought. My elder children from my ex-wife, well two of the three are closer to my wife's age than myself. My young son is the age of a child that my elder children would have rather than I. My wife has never, to my knowledge called her stepchildren by that word. They are my children in parlance.

      To my knowledge no one has ever called my youngest (who is a half brother) a half brother.

      Now do not get me wrong here. When we are all together people just assume that my wife is my daughter and my youngest belongs to my one of my elder children.

      Very interesting.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I belong to a blended family. Since all of us lived in the same house and grew up together we do not make a distinction. We call each other brothers and sisters (no half-siblings or stepsiblings).

      I must admit it was hard keeping the definitions straight as I wrote the article. I hope it doesn't confuse anyone with the examples I provided.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Good to understand the distinction. So many families now are blended and as you've said they don't bother calling each other with distinctions.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)