Name Help: A Brother for IslaUpdate: He’s here! Welcome to the world, Otto Sidney!

Lia from Australia writes:

My husband and I have very different tastes and can’t seem to find that one name that fits us both. I was hoping you could help find a boy’s name, a brother for Isla.

I like Remi, Ellis, Dashiell, and Otis.

He likes Archie, Dexter, Sydney, and Quincy.

I don’t know how to describe the types of names we are after (like, you know how people say they like ‘country’ or ‘strong’ or ‘nature-based’ etc.)

My husband seems to prefer quirky-ish names, but they have to be “real” – well-established and not invented. Whereas I like names with a softer sound. It doesn’t bother me if they’re unusual or not.

Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Dear Lia –

How exciting that you’re about to add a son to your family!

I know what you mean about struggling to describe your style. I can’t really sum my up in a few words, either. (Well, unless “names I like” counts?)

Here’s what leaps out at me about your lists – and almost every set of lists I see! We tend to feel like our partners are choosing names completely different from our own. (And vice versa.)

To outsiders, though? The lists often seem remarkably compatible. That’s the case here. I can imagine brothers named Dexter and Dashiell, or Otis and Quincy.

That’s the good news. The bad news? It doesn’t necessarily get you any closer to finding The Name.

Based on the McCrindle Baby Names Australia 2017, Archie currently ranks in the Top 100. The other names are more obscure, so my guess is that you might prefer choices slightly outside the mainstream. I’m going to mostly avoid recommending names in the current Top 100. (Though I don’t think that means you should!)

It also strikes me that you both are drawn to names that feel at home in 2018. Some, like Remi, weren’t often heard in English until recently. Others, like Archie and Otis, are making a comeback. But none of them are classics in steady use, and none of them are surprising choices for a boy born today. So we can rule out names like William and James.

That still leaves plenty of options! What would you think of:

Felix – At #82 in the McCrindle report, Felix is fairly familiar. (Though BabyCenter Australia says it’s out of their Top 100.) Felix takes the ‘x’ of Dexter, but with a slightly softer sound. I think Isla and Felix are perfect together.

Harris – Ellis is a smooth name. It glides! Harris feels similar, but a little bit more traditionally masculine. One downside: Harrison is very popular these days. But I think Harris might hit the middle spot between your tastes and his.

Jude – This is another one where McCrindle and BabyCenter Australia differ on popularity. Let’s just say it’s near the current Top 100. I can never decide if Jude’s sound is strong or soft. Let’s say it’s both! That could make it the perfect compromise pick.

Linus – I think Linus makes for a delightfully quirky name, traditional and old-school but still completely unexpected. It also reminds me of Ellis, as well as lots of current favorites like Lucas.

Lionel – With Leo and related names so popular, might Lionel make a comeback? It’s got the same throwback vibe as Archie or Dexter. But Lionel comes from lion – it’s a towering name, quite dignified and capable. Or does this just feel too vintage for your family?

Otto – If Otis isn’t quite right, might Otto appeal?

Royce – Since some of the name on your list are modern contemporary favorites, I wonder if Royce has potential? It reminds me of Remi slightly, but with a bigger, bolder sound.

Overall, my favorites are Felix and Jude. But I am strangely drawn to Royce, too.

Let’s open this up to the readers: what would you suggest as a brother for Isla?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Some great suggestions already. I’ll try not to repeat any.

    Edmund, Edwin – these feel slightly quirky and soft to me, and I feel like the nickname Ned is ripe for revival here (he’d’ fit right in with all the little Matildas and Lachlans)
    Rufus, Rupert
    Victor (Vico?)
    Alfred, Albert (Alfie, Albie, Freddy, Bertie?)
    Amory, Ellery, Emory
    Finian, Finnian
    Jasper (this one might be too popular for your husband?)
    Wilfred – this might be too quirky for you, but it gives the option of the relatively mainstream ‘Will’ as a nickname (as well as Wilfie, Freddy, etc)