al·​lude | \ ə-ˈlüd How to pronounce allude (audio) \
alluded; alluding

Definition of allude

intransitive verb

: to make indirect reference comments alluding to an earlier discussion broadly : refer

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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.

Examples of allude in a Sentence

As alluded to previously, the entire universe may actually exist in a higher-dimensional space. — Clifford A. Pickover, Surfing Through Hyperspace, 1999 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 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 Mrs. Simons alluded to some health problems, without being specific.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Its warning, published on the Chinese version of Twitter a day after a similar warning to Chinese students at American colleges, included a hashtag alluding to the protracted trade war between the United States and China. Washington Post, "China hits out at U.S. ‘babbling’ as it seeks to suppress memories of Tiananmen," 5 June 2019 Its warning, published on the Chinese version of Twitter a day after a similar warning to Chinese students at American colleges, included a hashtag alluding to the protracted trade war between the United States and China. Anna Fifield, Shibani Mahtani, Anchorage Daily News, "China hits out at US ‘babbling’ as it seeks to suppress memories of Tiananmen," 4 June 2019 The program’s first week of episodes alluded to the Vietnam War, playing the conflict out through an allegory involving the show’s puppet characters (including the bossy King Friday, who builds a barbed-wire barrier around his castle). David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Quietly Radical Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood," 4 June 2018 Before the jury panel was brought in, Assistant District Attorney Inga Petrovich filed a motion requesting Herman not allow evidence alluding to this having previously been a death penalty case. Heather Nolan,, "Jury selection in Travis Boys' first-degree murder trial gets underway," 14 Mar. 2018 The defense questioned the state’s motivation for trying to convict Wiley, alluding to political movements and a narrative around police brutality and African Americans. Sarah Sarder, Dallas News, "Jury deliberating fate of former Mesquite police officer accused of shooting unarmed man in the back," 19 July 2019 High schools around the country continue to grapple with use of nicknames and other phrases that allude to Native Americans., "Idaho high school drops mascot name that is disrespectful of Native Americans," 17 July 2019 Jackson, who shares a one-year-old daughter with Insecure co-star Dominique Perry, responded to the rumors with a comment on The Shade Room alluding that only their Good Trouble characters are in love. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Sarunas Jackson Responds To Rumors That He's Dating 'Good Trouble' Co-Star Zuri Adele," 14 June 2019 Even songs alluding to the city have been scrubbed. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Hong Kong’s protesters put AirDrop to ingenious use to breach China’s Firewall," 8 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'allude.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of allude

circa 1531, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for allude

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

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Statistics for allude

Last Updated

15 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for allude

The first known use of allude was circa 1531

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More Definitions for allude


al·​lude | \ ə-ˈlüd How to pronounce allude (audio) \
alluded; alluding

Kids Definition of allude

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on allude

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with allude

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for allude

Spanish Central: Translation of allude

Nglish: Translation of allude for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of allude for Arabic Speakers

Comments on allude

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


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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