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noun al·lu·sion \ə-ˈlü-zhən\

Simple Definition of allusion

  • : a statement that refers to something without mentioning it directly

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of allusion

  1. 1 :  an implied or indirect reference especially in literature; also :  the use of such references

  2. 2 :  the act of making an indirect reference to something :  the act of alluding to something


play \-ˈlü-siv, -ziv\ adjective





Examples of allusion in a sentence

  1. There are lots of literary echoes and allusions in the novel, but they don't do anything for the tired texture of the prose. —Tony Tanner, New York Times Book Review, 6 Apr. 1997

  2. So while the former engineering professor with an IQ reportedly tipping 180 enjoys bombarding his staff with math wizardry, scientific jargon and computerese, he also drops frequent allusions to his baseball card and stamp collections … —Maureen Dowd, New York Times Magazine, 16 Sept. 1990

  3. To my ear this is a beautiful reenactment of the prose of the antebellum South, with its careful grammar, its stately cadences, and its classical allusions and quotations. —Cleanth Brooks, The Language of the American South, 1985

  4. The lyrics contain biblical allusions.

  5. She made allusion to her first marriage.

allusion and illusion

Allusion and illusion may share some portion of their ancestry (both words come in part from the Latin word ludere, meaning “to play”), and sound quite similar, but they are distinct words with very different meanings. An allusion is an indirect reference, whereas an illusion is something that is unreal or incorrect. Each of the nouns has a related verb form: allude “to refer indirectly to,” and illude (not a very common word), which may mean “to delude or deceive” or “to subject to an illusion.”

Did You Know?

Allusion was borrowed into English in the middle of the 16th century. It derives from the Latin verb alludere, meaning "to refer to, to play with, or to jest," as does its cousin allude, meaning "to make indirect reference" or "to refer." Alludere, in turn, derives from a combination of the prefix ad- and ludere ("to play"). Ludere is a Latin word that English speakers have enjoyed playing with over the years; we've used it to create collude, delude, elude, and prelude, to name just a few.

Origin and Etymology of allusion

Late Latin allusion-, allusio, from Latin alludere (see allude)

First Known Use: 1612

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ALLUSION Defined for Kids


noun al·lu·sion \ə-ˈlü-zhən\

Definition of allusion for Students

  1. :  a statement that refers to something without mentioning it directly

Seen and Heard

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


to permeate or influence as if by dyeing

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