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 But nominations alluded the cast at the major award shows. Sandra Gonzalez, CNN, "'Parasite' winning best picture would make movies richer," 7 Feb. 2020 The beer’s name alludes to Boontling, Anderson Valley’s local dialect, spoken by a diminishing number of people but kept alive in spirit by the brewery. Esther Mobley,, "Results are in for The Chronicle’s Northern California Beer Hall of Fame class of 2020," 6 Feb. 2020 The title alludes to Verdi’s Il Trovatore, but this is anti-romantic. Armond White, National Review, "The Traitor Reimagines the Gangster Film and Modern Morality," 31 Jan. 2020 Here, the intellectual conflict Packer only briefly alludes to is instructive. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Enemies of the Truth," 27 Jan. 2020 Annie’s weight is only really alluded to twice, and both times the storylines are nuanced. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "On Shrill Season 2, Weight Is Barely a Topic—And That’s a Good Thing," 24 Jan. 2020 Lau additionally alluded to Warren's plan for the general election, including advocating for the repeal of the Electoral College. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Warren braces for 'long nomination fight' after Iowa caucuses," 24 Jan. 2020 The expression alludes to a history of unsuccessful matrimonies between the two countries’ royal families and the harsh winds that sweep towards Portugal from its neighbor. Max De Haldevang, Quartz Africa, "How Africa’s richest woman bought her way out of scrutiny from Western banks," 19 Jan. 2020 Head coach Brian Kelly alluded that the Irish haven’t practiced like an inspired group at times this week. Carter Kartels, Indianapolis Star, "Camping World Bowl: 5 keys for Notre Dame vs. Iowa State," 27 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for allude

Time Traveler

The first known use of allude was circa 1531

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Statistics for allude

Last Updated

28 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Allude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for allude

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with allude

Spanish Central: Translation of allude

Nglish: Translation of allude for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of allude for Arabic Speakers

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