Eli (name)

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Eli (/ˈl/) is a masculine given name of Hebrew origin, from Biblical עֵלִי "ascent", 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]

Alternatively, Eli may be an unrelated abbreviation of Hebrew names such as Elijah, Elisha, Eliezer, Elimelech, etc., all containing the element אלי, meaning "my God".

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 name[edit]

Biblical given name[edit]

Hebrew name אלי or names of which that is a short form[edit]

Further information: Eli Cohen (disambiguation)
  • Elihu Yale (1649–1721), benefactor of Yale University, also known as "Eli Yale"
  • Eli Wallach (1915–2014), movie actor
  • Eli M. Black (Elihu) (1921–1975), American businessman
  • Elie Wiesel (אלי ויזל; Eliezer) (born 1928), 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

Pseudonyms and nicknames[edit]

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

Fictional characters[edit]

Notable fictional characters with this given name are:

  • Eli Wallace a fictional character on the science fiction television series Stargate Universe
  • Eli Dingle, a fictional character in British soap Emmerdale played by Joseph Gilgun
  • Eli Stone, lead character in the television series "Eli Stone", played by Jonny Lee Miller.
  • Eli Loker, a character in the television series "Lie to me", played by Brendan Hines.


  • 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 Helena[edit]

See also[edit]


  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 babynamespedia.com.
  3. ^ behindthename.com
  4. ^ Eli – kvinnenavn, Store Norske Leksikon, visited 20 May 2009