Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Eli

We think of Eli as a pet form of Elijah or Eliot when, in fact, it’s a first name in its own right. Eli comes from the Hebrew word meaning "height". Eli was borne from the Bible, specifically in 1 Samuel 1-4. He was one of the last Israelite judges and a priest before the eventual rule of kings. Eli steps in when Hannah finally gives birth to a son, Samuel, after tortuous years of barrenness. In exchange for her answered prayers for motherhood, Hannah gives the child over to Eli to raise him in the service of God (Samuel will eventually become an important prophet). Still, maybe not such a good idea. You see, Eli had a couple of “bad boy” sons himself (who, among other things, inappropriately fornicate with women in the entrance to the Tabernacle). Samuel eventually hears from the Lord that Eli’s dynasty will soon come to an end. After informing his guardian Eli, the priest takes the news in stride: “He is the Lord. Let Him do what is good in His eyes.” Sounds like the man understood. Eventually, the Philistines defeat the Israelites and capture the Ark of the Covenant (the physical manifestation of God’s presence). Upon hearing this news, Eli (now 98 years old), keels over in despair, breaks his neck and dies. So that’s the story; we’re not making it up. The Puritans started using the name Eli in the 17th century. It was their practice to choose lesser known Biblical names and adopt them as their own. Eventually the name would spread, and Jewish people still embrace it as a pet form of numerous names with the “el” element (meaning God).

All About the Baby Name – Eli

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME ELI

The number Eight personality has everything to do with power, wealth and abundance. Somehow, this personality has been blessed on the material plane, but their authoritative and problem-solving traits provide evidence that their good fortunes are not just the luck of the lottery. They are well earned. This is the personality of CEOs and high-ranking military personnel. Eights are intensely active, hard-driving individuals. Success is only meaningful to them after a job well-done.  They are remarkable in their ability to see the larger picture right down to the smallest details, and organize a strategy around success. They then have the ability to direct a group around them toward any goal, and realize individual potential to get the most out of their team.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME ELI

Eli is no stranger to the U.S. popularity charts. It’s maintained a position on the Top 1000 list for over 120 consecutive years (at least since the government began tracking naming patterns). Although the name’s usage was more at the low to moderate level, Eli came out of hibernation in the late 1990’s. It has increased over 250 positions on the charts in a little more than 10 years and finally (for the first time) secured a spot on the Top 100 list in 2008. Eli doesn’t appear to be slowing down as it vies for a position on the Top 50. Even though we think of Eli as a nickname for Elijah or Elias, American parents are embracing the name as a stand-alone – perhaps they find the Biblical story charming. At least the name is.

Quick Facts

ON ELI

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

Hebrew

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

43

PRONUNCIATION:

EE-lie

SIMPLE MEANING:

Height, lofty

Characteristics

OF ELI

Authoritative

Powerful

Tough

Tenacious

Wealthy

Problem-solver

Achiever

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Eli

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME ELI

We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Eli

Popular Songs

ON ELI

Eli's Comin'
a song by Laura Nyro

Eli
a song by Arlo Guthrie

Famous People

NAMED ELI

Elián González (Cuban boy at the center of an international media story)
Eli Whitney (inventor of the cotton gin)
Eli Manning (football player)
Eli Roth (director)
Eli Wallach (actor/entertainer)
Eli Lilly (businessman)

Children of Famous People

NAMED ELI

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Eli

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME ELI

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Eli