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verb, al·lude \ə-ˈlüd\

Definition of allude


  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to make indirect reference <comments alluding to an earlier discussion>; broadly :  refer

Examples of allude in a sentence

  1. As alluded to previously, the entire universe may actually exist in a higher-dimensional space. —Clifford A. Pickover, Surfing Through Hyperspace, 1999

  2. Adams had alluded to slavery in 1816, when he confided to Jefferson that “there will be greater difficulties to preserve our Union, than You and I, our Fathers Brothers Friends … have had to form it.” —Joseph J. Ellis, American Heritage, May/June 1993

  3. The more challenging problems in fact—ones that the optimists rarely allude to—will be the problems of success. —Charles R. Morris, Atlantic, October 1989

  4. <Mrs. Simons alluded to some health problems, without being specific.>

Usage of allude

Allude is a word with playful roots—literally. It comes from the Latin alludere, which means "to play with," and shares the root of Latin ludere ("to play") with other English words, such as ludicrous and delude. One of the former meanings of allude was "to engage in wordplay": this sense is now long obsolete.

Although some people think that allude must always specifically entail an indirect reference, this is not the case; people have been using allude in the sense of "to refer to directly" for well over a century (as in "The Man Without a Country," the short story by Edward Everett Hale from 1863: "He never alluded so directly to his story again..."). So while allude may more commonly be used in the sense of expressing something indirectly, it is neither uncommon nor improper to use it to mean something more direct.

Allude need not always be followed by the preposition to, although that is the most common construction in modern usage.

Origin of allude

Latin alludere, literally, to play with, from ad- + ludere to play — more at ludicrous

First Known Use: 1533

ALLUDE Defined for Kids


verb al·lude \ə-ˈlüd\

Definition of allude for Students


  1. :  to talk about or hint at without mentioning directly <She only alluded to my past mistakes.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up allude? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to expose to danger or risk

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