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Eli as a name can have two different meanings, both originating in the Hebrew Bible.

PronunciationDanish: [ˈeːli]
English: /ˈl/
Hebrew: [ˈeli]
Language(s)Spanish, English, Norwegian, Jewish, Danish
Word/nameBiblical עֵלִי
Meaningascent; my god
Other names
Nickname(s)Elias, Eliezer, Elijah, Elimelech, Elin, Elisabet, Elisha

Eli can be a masculine given name of Hebrew origin, from Biblical עֵלִי "ascent", spelled with the Hebrew letter ayin in the beginning, the name of Eli, the high priest in the Books of Samuel.[1] It came to be used as a given name among the Puritans in the 17th century and was by them taken to the American colonies.[2]

Eli may alternatively be an unrelated abbreviation of Hebrew names such as Elijah, Elisha, Eliezer, Elimelech, etc., all containing the element אלי, meaning "my god" and spelled with the Hebrew letter aleph in the beginning. El is the name of a Semitic deity that is used in the Bible as a name for the god of the Israelites, and -i is the suffix for the genitive form ("mine").

Eli is sometimes also used as a short form for feminine names, biblical or not, such as Elizabeth and Eliana.

In the United States, the popularity of the given name Eli was hovering around rank 200 in the 1880s. It declined gradually during the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries, falling below rank 700 in 1964. In a significant revival of the name's popularity in the early 1970s, it bounced back above rank 400 in 1976. Its popularity has continued to grow since then, entering the top 100 masculine given names in the 2000s, and ranking as 43rd most popular given name as of 2013.[3]

Eli and Elin are also short forms for the feminine name Helena used in Scandinavia.[4]

Hebrew given nameEdit

Biblical given name עֵלִי ("ascent")Edit

  • Eli Bebout (born 1946), Wyoming politician
  • Eli Beeding (1928-2013), US Air Force captain and rocket test subject
  • Eli Whitney Blake (1795–1886), American inventor
  • Eli Whitney Blake, Jr. (1836–1895), American scientist
  • Eli Broad (born 1933), American billionaire, philanthropist, art collector
  • Eli Metcalfe Bruce (1828–1866) philanthropist, financier and politician from Kentucky
  • Eli Franklin Burton (1879–1948), Canadian physicist
  • Eli Giannini (born 1956), female Australian architect and director of MGS Architects in Melbourne
  • Eli Heckscher (1879–1952), Swedish economist
  • Eli Jones Henkle (1825 — 1893), U.S. Congressman from Maryland
  • Eli H. Janney (1831–1912), engineer, confederate soldier
  • Eli Langer (born 1967), Canadian artist
  • Eli Lilly (1838–1898) American soldier, pharmaceutical chemist, and industrialist, founder of Eli Lilly and Company
  • Eli Lilly (industrialist) (1885–1977), American industrialist, grandson of the Colonel
  • Eli Long (1837–1903), General in the Union Army in the American Civil War
  • Eli Nachmany, American writer
  • Eli M. Oboler (1915–1983) librarian, Idaho State University and writer
  • Eli Ohana (born 1964), Israeli football player
  • Eli Thomas Reich (1913–1999) US Vice Admiral
  • Eli M. Saulsbury (1817–1893) U.S. Senator from Delaware
  • Eli C. D. Shortridge (1830–1908), Governor of North Dakota
  • Eli Siegel (1902–1978), Latvian-American poet, critic and philosopher
  • Eli Snyman (born 1996), Zimbabwe-born South African rugby union player
  • Eli Todd Tappan (1824–1888) American educator, mathematician, author, lawyer and newspaper editor
  • Eli Terry (1772–1852) inventor and clockmaker in Connecticut
  • Eli Thayer (1819–1899), member of the US House of Representatives from Massachusetts
  • Eli Todd (1769–1833), pioneer in the treatment of the mentally ill in Connecticut
  • Eli Walker (born 1992), Welsh rugby union player
  • Eli L. Whiteley (1913–1986), American awarded the Medal of Honor
  • Eli Whitney (1765–1825) American inventor of the cotton gin
  • Eli Zuckerman (born 1973), Israeli Olympic competitive sailor

Hebrew name אלי ("my God") or names of which that is a short formEdit

  • Elihu Yale (1649–1721), benefactor of Yale University, also known as "Eli Yale"
  • Elie Munk (1900–1981), German-born French rabbi and rabbinic scholar
  • Eli Wallach (1915–2014), movie actor
  • Eli M. Black (Elihu) (1921–1975), American businessman
  • Elie Wiesel (אלי ויזל; Eliezer) (1928-2016), Human rights activist, Holocaust writer
  • Eli Hurvitz (Elihu, 1932-2011), Israeli industrialist
  • Eli Amir (אלי עמיר born 1937) Israeli writer and peace activist
  • Eli Noam (born 1946), professor at Columbia University
  • Eli Biham (אלי ביהם, born 1960), Israeli cryptographer
  • Eli Yishai (אליהו "אלי" ישי, Eliyahu, born 1962), Israeli politician
  • Eli Ohana (אלי אוחנה, born 1964), Israeli football player
  • Eli Yatzpan (born 1965), Israeli television host and comedian
  • Eli Roth (born 1972) American film director
  • Eli Manning (Elisha) (born 1981), American football player, 2 time super bowl MVP
  • Eli Dershwitz (born 1995), Under-20 World Saber Champion, and US Olympic saber fencer

Pseudonyms and nicknamesEdit

  • Bobby Eli (real name Eli Tatarsky), American musician, arranger, composer and record producer
  • Eli, a nickname for a Yale University student or graduate, after Yale benefactor Elihu Yale

Fictional charactersEdit


  • Billy Eli (born 1962), American singer and songwriter
  • Look Tin Eli (died 1919), Chinese-American businessman
  • Roger Eli (born 1965), English former footballer

Scandinavian short form of HelenaEdit

Eli in Scandinavia can also be written as Øli or Ellen.

Fictional charactersEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Withycombe, E. G. (1976) [1944]. The Concise Dictionary of English Christian Names (3rd ed.). London: Omega Books. ISBN 1-85007-059-8.
  2. ^ Royal Ralph Hinman,A catalogue of the names of the first Puritan settlers of the colony of Connecticut, 1846, p. 169 mentions one Eli Bush, born 1741. David Pickering, The Penguin Book of Baby Names, Penguin, 2009. See also
  3. ^
  4. ^ Eli – kvinnenavn, Store Norske Leksikon, visited 20 May 2009
  5. ^ "Eli Clark". Identity V Wiki. Retrieved 2019-05-26.