If I'm 18 and my brother is 15, is he my little brother and I'm his elder brother? Or he is my smaller brother and I'm his bigger one?

Any clarifications?

  • 2
    Off topic, but you want to know which one is correct, not which one is true. The truth of a statement has nothing to do with whether it is correctly formed.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 13:30

3 Answers 3


When you want to be clear that the distinction is about age, the simplest and most obvious choice is, like Shaunak Sukla says:

younger brother, older brother

However, it is very common to refer to a younger sibling as little or an older one as big (usually not bigger!):

little brother, big brother

Although this refers to size, in practice it normally means the little one is the youngest. It is also used between grown-ups to indicate the (usually by then irrelevant) difference in age. It is even done jokingly, especially if the younger sibling has outgrown the older one.


You can refer to two brothers as "younger" and "older", or as "the little brother" and "the big brother". "Elder" is acceptable but a little out-of-date. When you say "little" and "big" you are referring to age and not height or weight. I've never heard someone refer to his brother as his "smaller brother". Generally we use big and little when talking about children. If you are 40 and your brother is 35, then if you call him your "little brother" it will be taken as being a humorous or whimsical reference.


It would be better to use younger and elder!!

He is your younger brother and you are elder brother!

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