While the expression “explain like I’m five” (ELI5) predates even the Satoshi white paper, it has now become synonymous with cryptocurrency and blockchain. This is largely due to the daunting complexities involved in most of the processes surrounding the technology.
The concept of ELI5 has been adopted to allow people involved in crypto to be able to pause a conversation in order to have a particular aspect of the technology explained in the simplest of terms before moving on with the discussion.
The origin of the phrase goes back to a famous Albert Einstein quote. He said: “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, then you don’t understand it yourself.”
His point was, of course, that if you have a good enough understanding of something, you should be able to break it down in simple enough terms for a young child to comprehend properly. He also wanted to get the point across that a person can still explain a complex subject without using complicated words.
A version of Einstein’s quote was later popularized in the TV comedy The Office where characters regularly used the line: “Why don’t you explain it to me like I’m five.”
The U.S. version of the show was airing during the embryonic years of cryptocurrency and the blockchain technology that underpins it, ensuring the expression was embedded into the tech lexicon.