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 While the title seems to allude to Ivy coveting Whiteness, neither she nor any of the characters seem to register the racial or gendered implications of their actions. Washington Post, "Susie Yang’s ‘White Ivy’ is an entertaining character study of a social climber with a secret," 5 Nov. 2020 Tucker continues to allude that those who practice best will play, but the Spartans need Collins’ shiftiness and burst to build on Saturday’s 126 yards of team rushing. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football stock watch: New stars emerge in win over Michigan," 2 Nov. 2020 These polished black fins on the rear fenders allude to air vents that the most exotic cars use to reduce turbulence in the wheel wells. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "2021 Toyota Sienna's 8 Family-Friendliest Features," 28 Oct. 2020 While the charges did not allude to a motive for what is one of the city’s 68 homicides so far this year, police said at the time that a dispute between two groups of people preceded the shooting. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, "Charges: 18-year-old fatally shot Minneapolis teen in the back," 21 Oct. 2020 Each will visually allude to a different iconic landmark or period in New York’s history, such as the soaring Chrysler Building, with furniture laid out to accommodate local and state social distancing regulations. Eric Rosen, Condé Nast Traveler, "American Express's Newest Centurion Lounge Is Open at JFK," 5 Oct. 2020 Tellingly, the woman who asked the question did not allude to the president. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Biden Won’t Answer Court-Packing Question," 22 Sep. 2020 Another author might note the dissonance between O’Brien’s public and private statements; Woodward does not even allude to it. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Bob Woodward’s Bad Characters," 15 Sep. 2020 In her remarks, Harris seemed to allude to some of her past criticisms of the former vice president. Matt Viser,, "Biden formally introduces Harris as Democratic ticket goes after Trump," 12 Aug. 2020

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

10 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Allude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 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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