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 As some candidates alluded to, the lack of affordable childcare can also keep new moms home from work longer, worsening the gender pay gap. Time, "Biggest Takeaways from the January Democratic Debate," 15 Jan. 2020 But there's a sense of deep unease, one, because this decade played out under the shadow of two failures from the prior decade, the financial crisis, as Peggy alluded to, and the Iraq War. NBC News, "Meet the Press - December 22, 2019," 22 Dec. 2019 As Avila alluded, both players are expected to start the season with the Mud Hens. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Will Casey Mize, Matt Manning pitch for Detroit Tigers in 2020? 'I would say yeah'," 11 Dec. 2019 Of course, as Matt alludes to, the numbers don’t include context. Stephanie Stradley, Houston Chronicle, "Stephanie Stradley’s Texans-Patriots Q&A with Matt Chatham," 29 Nov. 2019 The tragedy of this season, as the judges even alluded to, is that there are some good dancers, yet all the suspense has nothing to do with dancer vs. dancer — only Spicer. Christopher Borrelli,, "'DWTS’ recap: Spicer, our long national nightmare, continues on; but Kel Mitchell shines," 4 Nov. 2019 As Harris alludes to, the onus to win has been mainly rested on the shoulders of Denver’s defense. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Broncos’ defense looks the part of a top 10 unit after stifling Browns," 4 Nov. 2019 As Solskjaer alluded to, Martial’s quality has always been there., "Anthony Martial Is Back - And He's the One Who Makes Manchester United Tick," 30 Oct. 2019 Atomos, as its name alludes, plans to power its ever-circling vehicle with a nuclear reactor, starting in the mid-2020s. Sarah Scoles, WIRED, "Here Come the Space Tugs, Ready to Tidy Up Earth's Orbits," 22 Aug. 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

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Allude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 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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