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The first name 

Eli is a first name typically given to boys, but in rare cases also used as a girls name.

The name Eli is very popular!

The first name Eli is one of the top 100 most popular boys names in the US – currently at #53 in our SmartGenius ranking. Over 1,000 babies each year are named Eli, accounting for approximately 0.40 % of all newborn boys. In the entire USA, approximately 135,608 people – children, adults and seniors – currently bear the name Eli. That is 0.04 % of all living Americans.

You won't believe all there is 
to discover about the name

What does the name 
Eli mean?

The first name Eli has its roots in the Hebrew Bible from which two meanings can be derived. On the one hand, Eli can mean “ascension” or “elevation”. On the other hand, Eli may be a shortened version of names like Elias or Elijah with the meaning “my God”.

Did you know… that Eli is a real “comeback kid” in the world of first names? In the 19th century, the name was very popular among the Christian settlers. After a significant decline in popularity in the first half of the 20th century, it staged quite the comeback after the 1970s.

Eli is a name shared by several well-known people

An opera

Eli is an opera in three acts by German composer Walter Steffens. It premiered in 1967 in Dortmund, Germany, and is based on a mystery play by Nelly Sachs from 1943. The setting of the opera is emotionally intense: In a polish village after the end of World War II, a slain Jewish boy called Eli is remembered by his family and neighbors.

Actor and director

Eli Roth (*1972)
Eli Raphael Roth is an American film director, screenwriter and actor. He is known for his work in the horror genre, for example Cabin Fever and Hostel, and for his role as Donny Donowitz in the 2009 Quentin Tarantino movie Inglorious Basterds.

An inventor and engineer

Eli Whitney Jr. (1765 - 1825)
The American inventor and engineer Eli Whitney Jr. played a considerable role in the Industrial Revolution within the 19th century USA: his so called cotton gin helped to make cotton into a profitable crop. Also, he was an advocate for interchangeable mechanical parts which revolutionized the manufacturing industry.

Former Quarterback

Eli Manning (*1981)
Elisha Nelson Manning, known as Eli Manning to his fans, is a former American football quarterback. He led his team, the New York Giants, to two Super Bowl victories in 2007 and 2011. Manning retired in 2020 after receiving numerous awards for his accomplishments.

A philanthropist and businessman

Eli Broad (1933 - 2021)
Together with his wife Edythe businessman Eli Broad founded the Broad Foundations in 2010 a multi-billion Dollar organization committed to supporting K-12 public schools, advancing scientific and medical research, and to making contemporary art accessible for everyone.

An innovative physician

Dr. Eli Todd (1769 - 1833)
The work of Dr. Eli Todd is distinguished by his efforts in the field of medical care for the mentally ill and smallpox treatment. It not only had a significant impact on residents in his native Connecticut, but also set new standards for the rest of the still-emerging nation.

Go on a journey to places 
with your name

When you hear the name Eli, you might first think of people. But did you know that there are also places with the name Eli? Are you also called Eli? Maybe one day you will visit the places that are named just like you...

Several places...

in the USA are called Eli, for example in Kentucky, Nebraska, and West Virginia.

A minor kingdom...

in medieval Ireland was called Éile or Éli. Descendants of the rulers of some parts of the kingdom are alive to this day: in Maryland, USA.

Eli -
in the 2000s more popular than ever before

If we dig really deep into our statistics, we find that there are very few boys' names that have been consistently popular for so long that they have been given to newborns in every single year since the beginning of our records in 1880. In fact, there are only 442 boys' names that appear in our statistics in every single year, and Eli is one of those very special classics. At the same time, Eli has never been more popular than it is in this century - in 2013 the name even made it to rank #43 of the most popular boys' names, easily landing in the top 100 of our SmartGenius first name statistics.

In years where the graph has no value, the name Eli was given less than five times or even none at all in the entire USA.

Happy Birthday - 4,705 boys named Eli celebrate their second birthday this year

...because: In 2022, 4,705 boys were born and given the name Eli by their parents. That puts Eli at #71 on our list of most popular boys' names. It was much less popular in 1964 - only 121 parents chose this name for their newborn son and it ranked 649 on the popularity scale of all boys' names.

Eli -
very special and well known across the entire USA

Everyone knows him, everyone loves him and still he’s different from the mainstream: Eli occurs in every single state of the U.S. This may sound quite unspectacular at first, but in fact, of the nearly 50,000 different male first names that occur in the USA, only 386 are recorded in each individual state, so the name Eli is definitely something very special. However, at the same time, since the name does not appear in the top 100 most common first names in any single state, Eli is not one of those names that everyone encounters in his neighbourhood, but stands out from the crowd, captures attention and is something special without being strange or unknown. From Alaska to Florida, a total of 135,446 men and boys of all generations bear the name Eli – that is one in 1,232. However, there are considerable regional differences – the name is far more popular than average in Utah, where one in 400 men and boys is called Eli, while it is particularly rare in Rhode Island, where you have to ask an average of 2,559 men for their name to get Eli as an answer once.

Eli has 3 letters 
and begins with an E

Well, you might say, you probably figured that out yourself! But what you might not know is: The letter E is neither particularly common nor particularly rare as a first letter for boys' names: 3.8% of all common boys' names in the US begin with this letter. The most common first letters of boys' names, by the way, are J, A and D, while X, U and Q are the least common initials of boys' names.

With only three letters, the name Eli is obviously very short. In fact, only 1.0% of all common first names in the US consist of exactly three letters. Just 0.2% of all first names are even shorter and only have two letters, while nearly 99% of all boys’ and girls’ names use more than three letters. On average, first names in the US (not counting hyphenated names) are 6.5 letters long. There are no significant differences between boys' and girls' names.

That means that with 3.8%, E as the first letter in boys' names is almost as common as all 26 letters on average - and of all the boys' names that start with an E, Edward is the most common.

Other names with 
E, l and i

If you take all the letters in the name Eli – E, l and i – and put them together again, you can form another name, such as Lei.

With hands, flags and sounds 
How to say Eli

If your name is Eli and someone asks after your name, you can of course just tell them what it is. But sometimes that isn't so easy - what if it's too loud, and you don't understand them well? Or what if the other person is so far away that you can see them but not hear them? In these situations, you can communicate your name in so many other ways: you call spell it, sign it, or even use a flag to wave it...

This is how you spell the name Eli

So that everyone really understands you when you have to spell the name Eli, you can simply say:




This is how the name Eli is spelled in the NATO phonetic alphabet

The NATO alphabet often helps people spell words on the phone or radio when there are communication problems.

How do you write Eli in Braille?

Braille is made up of dots, which the blind and visually impaired can feel to read words.



You want to tell a deaf person that your name is Eli

Just use American Sign Language!

The name Eli is particularly colorful in the Semaphore flag signaling system!

These flags are used for maritime communication - each flag represents a letter.


Have you ever waved the name Eli

In the navy, sailors of two ships might wave flags to each other to send messages. A sailor holds two flags in specific positions to represent different letters.


Beeping like crazy...

In Morse code, letters and other characters are represented only by a series of short and long tones. For example, a short tone followed by a long tone stands for the letter A. Eli sounds like this: