Eli means "high" or "elevated" and comes from Hebrew. The "El" in Eli means "God." Although it can be used by any parents, religious or not, Eli is a biblical name that continues to have strong ties to Judeo-Christian tradition.
In the Bible, Eli appears in the Old Testament's Books of Samuel. Eli is the high priest of Shiloh, an area in what we now know as the West Bank. In the story of Hannah, Hannah interacts with Eli when she comes to the temple to pray for a son. After becoming pregnant with that son, Samuel, she brings him back to the temple to be raised and trained by Eli.
In more modern times, Eli rose in popularity due to the Puritans. The name was a popular choice for members of this religious reform movement and became integrated in American society through them.
Today, Eli has been around long enough that some parents choose it for the sound alone, without considering the religious meaning. Still, Eli remains popular with Christian and Jewish parents looking for a biblical name that 's short and sweet.
Eli is pronounced "EE-lie." There aren't alternatives in either the pronunciation or spelling.
Eli doesn 't have much nickname potential because it's so short. However, Eli can serve as a nickname for longer biblical names with the "El" sound, including Elijah, Elliot, Elias, or Eliezer. In some European countries, Eli is a feminine nickname used for women with names including Elin ("EE-lin"), Elsbet, and Helena.
Eli has been on the Social Security Administration 's list of top baby boy names since 1900, and was number 60 for boys in 2020. Eli's most popular year was 2013, when nearly 8,000 baby boys were given the name, making it the 43rd most popular boy 's name in the U.S.
Eli brings to mind other popular names with prominent vowel sounds, like Liam and Ava. The name is short and easy to pronounce, but has a long history that gives it depth and gravitas.
Eli Whitney : Inventor of the cotton gin
Eli Lilly : Pioneering pharmacist, founder of company bearing his name
Eli Roth : Director of films including Hostel
Eli Wolf : NFL player whose full name is Elijah
Eli Bebout : Wyoming politician
Eli Broad : Billionaire owner of SunAmerica insurance
Eli Manning : former NFL quarterback whose full name is Elisha
Eli Manning : football player
Eli Cates : baseball player
Eli Jacobs : baseball player
Eli Roth : film director