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

Unlikely: a jaunt to the Gulf of Mexico Initial model runs several days ago had alluded to the potential passage of this system over Florida and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "Tropical storm warnings have been posted for the Northwest Bahamas, while watches are up in Florida.," 13 Sep. 2019 Following the Steelers’ 33-3 Super Bowl-banner-unveiling beatdown inflicted upon them by the Patriots Sunday night, alluding to Brown was like emptying a salt shaker into their wounds., "FOXBOROUGH — If there’s an Antonio Brown user’s guide, the Pittsburgh Steelers were in no mood to share it with the Patriots. Mentions of their former teammate-turned-Raiders escapee-turned-Patriots principle-torching mercenary were met with tight-lipped dismissiveness and taciturn resentment.," 10 Sep. 2019 Pelosi herself has done much to enforce this perception, both with her refusal to communicate her rationale—silence is often mistaken for genius—and by periodically alluding to hypothetical wheels in motion that may or may exist at all. Elizabeth Spiers, The New Republic, "Beyond Pelosi," 24 July 2019 Billie's music video alludes heavily to climate change in an extremely simplistic and artistic way. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Billie Eilish's New Music Video Has a Super Important Secret Message and I Stan Her Even More Now," 5 Sep. 2019 Derderian even alludes to the fact that Neflix is aware of a subsection of users who are either coming to the platform specifically for anime, or are using the platform primarily for anime. Maxwell Williams,, "Anime’s audience grows on streaming networks like Netflix," 2 Aug. 2019 Dowd also alludes to Trump's warm feelings about Flynn - which, when heard in the actual audio, carries clear overtones that point to a potential pardon. Author: Aaron Blake, Anchorage Daily News, "No collusion vs. no conspiracy: Key questions Mueller could answer," 23 July 2019 From a distance the overall composition alludes to natural forms, such as the spill of a waterfall or the irregular bark of a tree. Christopher Knight,, "Review: LACMA’s ‘Art of Korean Writing’ reveals the brilliance in each brushstroke," 29 June 2019 Kendi alludes to the projection that minorities will make up most of the US population by mid-century. John Blake, CNN, "In the census-citizenship case, the Supreme Court may once again affirm 'white rule'," 23 June 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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Statistics for allude

Last Updated

10 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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