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

Even songs alluding to the city have been scrubbed. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Hong Kong’s protesters put AirDrop to ingenious use to breach China’s Firewall," 8 July 2019 The name, in its expansiveness, also alludes to how the Makrokosmos Project welcomes a broad audience for new and often unfamiliar music by creating a relaxed, communal experience. Brett Campbell | For The Oregonian/oregon Live,, "At this classical music festival, you can come and go as you please, amid wine and cheese," 19 June 2019 Though Simon’s physical scars will heal, his mother alludes that only time will tell if the emotional wounds from his first run-in with the police will as readily fade away. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Brooklyn Teen Arrested, Charged After Being Cleared In Nearby Incident," 18 June 2019 But as the studies allude, the pop-up show's vision of a thriving deep sea hub is just as—if not more—vulnerable to the effects of climate change as the lands surrounding Earth's oceans. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "A New Pop-Up Exhibit in NYC Immerses Visitors in a Deep Sea Experience," 1 June 2019 In addition, Ronan argues, the center’s dominant horizontal lines would allude to the horizontality of the Midwest prairie that inspired Wright. Blair Kamin,, "Column: Wright or wrong? A planned visitor center next to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio raises thorny issues," 21 June 2019 Benatar made some massive hits of the ‘80s, many of which alluded to a romantic landscape that was troubled and even dangerous. John Adamian,, "Female rockers Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge and Liz Phair at Foxwoods," 21 June 2019 That is an apparent veiled reference to alleged infidelities Hunter’s lawyer, Vega, alluded to in an August letter to the Justice Department urging prosecutors to delay any action until after the election. Washington Post, "Legal fight tougher for congressman as wife pleads guilty," 14 June 2019 The site’s past led to choices such as using Heath Ceramics tile and white farmhouse brick from Clé Tile that slyly alludes to the cinder block and hollow-clay tile infill that previously chopped up the structure. Jessica Ritz,, "The Manufactory: A new culinary anchor in the Arts District," 10 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

18 Jul 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

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).


to form ideas or theories about something

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