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 Fraternity brothers told police McWilliams, the future deputy, was the reason Durbin was never blacklisted from Delta Tau Delta property after women started coming forward to the chapter — something to which McWilliams seemed to allude., "Eastern Michigan rape suspect: Title IX director said assault didn't sound like him," 10 Apr. 2021 Though Mulugheta did allude to the matter on social media Friday. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Texans QB Deshaun Watson now facing lawsuits from seven women alleging sexual misconduct," 19 Mar. 2021 The jewels allude to the strength and audacity of those women with details like weighty links embedded with diamonds, resembling exquisite chain mail. Tanya Dukes, ELLE Decor, "Louis Vuitton's New High-Jewelry Offerings Look to Far-Flung Travel Destinations," 1 Apr. 2021 Those who work in the bot business consistently allude to a precarity that lingers just below the surface. Washington Post, "On Discord, bots find a foothold as mini indie success stories," 25 Mar. 2021 The rooms feature weathered brass, shipbuilding materials, and smooth curves to allude to a ship's interior cabin, all in neutral hues to remind people of the lake outside. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, "Chicago's Navy Pier Is Getting Its First Hotel This Week," 16 Mar. 2021 The section that was said to allude to slavery was found to have no connection at all. Lauren M. Johnson, CNN, "A University of Texas report confirms its alma mater's complicated history but finds 'no racist intent'," 10 Mar. 2021 Given the year and that it was probably taken in San Antonio, the message may allude to demobilization doldrums. Paula Allen, San Antonio Express-News, "Reader wants to return century-old postcard of soldiers in San Antonio to sender's family," 13 Feb. 2021 The Joint Chiefs memo did not allude directly to the question of military involvement. Robert Burns, Star Tribune, "Top military leaders remind troops of limits of free speech," 12 Jan. 2021

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

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Allude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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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Comments on allude

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