What Does ELI5 Mean?

ELI5 (Explain Like I'm 5) means "Please explain this to me using simplistic terms and simple ideas" (i.e., using layman's terms).

ELI5 is similar to KIS (keep it simple) and KISS (keep it simple stupid). It is most often a request from someone who does not possess the same level of expertise as the person explaining.

The number 5 (meaning "5 years old") can be replaced with any number, but 5 is used most often because it carries the connotation of "I understand basic English but I have no experience on this subject."

Summary of Key Points

"Explain Like I'm 5 (can be any number)" is the most common definition for ELI5 on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:Explain Like I'm 5 (can be any number)
5: Extremely difficult to guess
Typical Users:
Adults and Teenagers

Image for ELI5

When I write ELI5, I mean this:

meaning of ELI5
The image shows an adult explaining something in simplistic terms.

An Academic Look at ELI5

ELI5 is used as a standalone imperative sentence (i.e., an order or request). It is not used as a part of speech within a wider sentence.

ELI5 is an initialism abbreviation. Technically, this means it is pronounced using its individual letters (i.e., Ee Ell Aye 5), but as this is harder to say than "Explain Like I'm 5," it is not often spoken using its letters. In other words, the abbreviation ELI5 is for efficiency in writing and not efficiency in speech.

What Did We Say before Texting and Social Media?

Before the digital era, we might have written something like "Please use layman's terms" instead of ELI5.