al·​lude ə-ˈlüd How to pronounce allude (audio)
alluded; alluding

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.
Recent Examples on the Web While MacLean’s latest songs were inspired in part by memories of his mother’s death, the album’s title alludes more to his absence than hers. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 9 Aug. 2023 As alluded in the previous scene, this is the Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie. Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 22 July 2023 Tactics and Recent Results World Cup success has alluded two-time Olympic Gold medalist head coach Pia Sundhage, much like Brazil. Neel Shelat, Forbes, 16 July 2023 Two weeks ago, the Royal Hashemite Court of Jordan alluded that King Abdullah would be attending the Sun Valley conference. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 13 July 2023 Rosen was an obsessive student of Dylan, but as the title alludes, the album also embodies an attempt at psychological reconciliation. James Reich, SPIN, 8 June 2023 Some of the 18 choices to which the White House summary alludes would keep the banks as intermediaries. Milton Ezrati, Forbes, 5 May 2023 Rivera alluded that her outburst toward Gaete might be only part of the reason she was fired. Wendy Geller, Peoplemag, 28 Apr. 2023 Her 'Absolutely Wrecked' The Big Bang Theory alum also shared photos of her daughter Matilda and alluded that the 8-week-old also helped Mom out in her own way. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 31 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'allude.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin alludere, literally, to play with, from ad- + ludere to play — more at ludicrous

First Known Use

circa 1531, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of allude was circa 1531

Dictionary Entries Near allude

Cite this Entry

“Allude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


al·​lude ə-ˈlüd How to pronounce allude (audio)
alluded; alluding
: to speak of or hint at without mentioning directly

More from Merriam-Webster on allude

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