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

Meanwhile, the episode also alludes to, but doesn’t exactly mention, Trump’s election. Emily Gould, The Cut, "Katja Blichfeld Gets What She Wants," 10 Jan. 2018 There was a cut [of that scene] that was a very short version, that more alludes to suicide, and then Hannah's dead. Hannah Orenstein, Seventeen, "Another Mental Health Organization Called Out "13 Reasons Why" for Romanticizing Suicide," 21 Apr. 2017 Unsurprisingly, the cuts to early voting, the move to strip Evers of economic powers, and other changes weren’t alluded to on Walker’s chart. Aaron Rupar, Vox, "Scott Walker accidentally reveals he doesn’t get Venn diagrams while downplaying GOP’s power grab," 14 Dec. 2018 The group’s name, often shortened to NSU, alludes to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party. Washington Post, "Neo-Nazi trial puts spotlight on fate of migrants in Germany," 11 July 2018 The documentary alludes to the personal sacrifices the journalists are making., "How Liz Garbus Became A Fly On The Wall During The New York Times' Most Stressful 100 Days," 25 May 2018 The agency said that low oil prices meant savings at the pump would be less than forecast, and alluded to concerns that expensive fuel-saving technology could come at the cost of investments in auto safety. Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, "Calling Car Pollution Standards ‘Too High,’ E.P.A. Sets Up Fight With California," 2 Apr. 2018 While loading the wood, a woman arrives accusing them of stealing the lumber that was meant to remodel her home -- alluding back to the overall theme of the season, Robbin’ Season. Lauren Alvarez, Billboard, "'Atlanta' Episode 5 Recap: Paper Boi's Absurd Adventures With His Barber," 30 Mar. 2018 There's also a baby play gym in the bottom corner, alluding to Middleton's two-month-old son Arthur. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Pippa Middleton Poses for a Festive Post-Baby Photo Shoot," 20 Dec. 2018

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

28 Feb 2019

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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).


the range of authority or knowledge

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