"ascended, uplifted, high"

Eli Origin and Meaning

The name Eli is a boy's name of Hebrew origin meaning "ascended, uplifted, high".

With its sharp, succinct sounds and cool, laidback style, Eli is a popular choice among parents today. Compact and punchy, it is a Biblical name with plenty of charm.

Derived from the Hebrew ’aly, the name Eli means “high” or “ascended.” In the Old Testament, Eli was a high priest of the Israelites, who trained and gave guidance to the prophet Samuel.

While the Biblical Eli suffered an unhappy end due to his sons’ misdeeds, his name hasn’t shared the same fate. Used since the 17th century, Eli has never been out of the US Top 1000. It has featured in the Top 100 for the last decade, and is currently popular in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and The Netherlands too.

Eli is also used as a shortened form of Elijah, Elias, Eliezer, or even Elliot and in some Scandinavian countries, is it used as a feminine name, most often as a nickname for Elisabet or Elin. With its unisex potential and its longer forms ranking highly, Eli might feel more popular than it actually is.

Notable namesakes include Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton gin, Eli Long, a Civil War general, and Eli Roth, a film director, screenwriter, and actor. Enjoyed by the general public and celebrities alike, Eli has been chosen by CNN anchor Campbell Brown, SNL alum Rachel Dratch, and actor Kevin Weisman.

Spirited but solid, no-fuss Eli is given to over 4000 boys each year, so you wouldn’t be alone in loving the name. If you don’t want your baby to have share however, you could consider other Biblical E names such as Eben, Elim, Enosh, or Eran, or perhaps other 3 letter gems, like Ira, Ari, Jem, Nye, or Ivo.

# 80 in the US

Eli Rank in US Top 1000

# 115 on Nameberry

Eli Rank in Nameberry Top 1000

Eli Popularity

Famous People Named Eli

  • Elisha Nelson "Eli" ManningAmerican NFL football player; brother of football players Peyton and Cooper Manning
  • Eli Raphael RothAmerican actor and director
  • Eli WhitneyAmerican inventor
  • Eli Herschel WallachAmerican actor
  • Eli LongAmerican Civil War general
  • Eli Charles Daniel ShortridgeAmericna politician; 3rd governor of North Dakota, USA
  • Eli Metcalfe BruceAmerican Confederate Congressman
  • Eli Jones HenkleU.S. Congressman from Maryland
  • Eli ThayerU.S. Congressman from Massachusetts
  • Eli May SaulsburyU.S. Senator from Delaware
  • Elijah "Eli" Levi DaleYouTuber from The Dale Tribe family vloggers
  • Eli James Vonnegut (b. 1980)son of Mark Vonnegut; grandson of novelist Kurt Vonnegut
  • Eli Alistair Stephens (b. 2007)son of actors Toby Stephens and Anna,Louise Plowman
  • Eli James Senor (b. 2007)son of TV journalist Campbell Brown and Daniel Samuel Senor
  • Eli Samuel Weisman (b. 2008)son of actor Kevin Weisman
  • Eli DavidLloyd, son of actor Gareth David,Lloyd
  • Eli Benjamin Wahl (b. 2010)son of comedienne Rachel Dratch and John Wahl
  • Eli Christopher Ivery (b. 2016)son of actress Ellen Pompeo and Chris Ivery

Eli in Pop Culture

  • Eli Goldsworthycharacter on TV's "Degrassi: The Next Generation"
  • Eli Sammlercharacter on TV's "Once and Again"
  • Eli Lloydnurse on TV's "Grey's Anatomy"
  • Eli Cottonmouthcharacter in movie "Dog Days of Summer"
  • Elicharacter on TV's "Xena: Warrior Princess"
  • Elicharacter in "Not a Drop to Drink" by Mindy McGinnis
  • Eli "Weevil" Navarrocharacter on TV's "Veronica Mars"
  • Eli Davidfather of Ziva David on TV's "NCIS"
  • Elisong by Bosnian Rainbows
  • Eli StoneTV Show
  • Eli Lokercharacter on TV's 'Lie To Me'
  • Eli Yanakakismain protagonist in the Compound novels
  • Elijah Leslie "Eli" Pepperjackcharacter in the Netflix series "Trollhunters"
  • Eli Casha character in The Royal Tenenbaums
  • Eli Mooncharacter in the anime/manga "Cardcaptors"

Eli in Nameberry Blog Posts