al·​lude | \ə-ˈlüd \
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

The mix in fonts of modern sans serif with a handwritten script alludes to the fact the theater stages contemporary and classic works. Matthew J. Palm,, "A rose by any other name? Orlando theater shakes up its image," 9 June 2018 Some hosts are apparently developing some kind of long-term memory: Maeve remembers her daughter, and Lawrence somehow recalls a previous loop in which the Man in Black alluded to his own daughter. Scott Meslow, GQ, "Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 Recap: My Immortal," 14 May 2018 One that alludes to ugly truths about the way Native Americans were treated? Tony Adler, Chicago Reader, "Oklahoma! throws a bright, golden haze over history," 25 Apr. 2018 The DiNubiles say that Olivieri is part of a group of young men who deal drugs and guns, posting pictures online that often allude to violence. Chris Palmer,, "Threats, taunts, tears: Families of slain South Philly teens struggling 6 months later," 20 Apr. 2018 However, in 2016 the world got a glimpse into their lives after Beyoncé released Lemonade—an emotional, fiery album that alluded to marital strife and, eventually, marital forgiveness. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "In Honor of Their 10th Anniversary, a Look Back at Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Relationship," 4 Apr. 2018 TurboTax The tax preparer used a monster under the bed to allude to people’s fears about doing their taxes. Mae Anderson, The Seattle Times, "Here’s a look at the best and the worst Super Bowl ads," 4 Feb. 2018 In a rooftop exchange in the pilot, the park’s writer, Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), and upper management Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) allude to Delos’s bigger plans. Joanna Robinson, HWD, "Westworld: Eight Lingering Questions from Season 1," 20 Apr. 2018 The new parent might've alluded to the fact that the happy occasion also serves as a painful reminder of the recent cheating scandal surrounding her baby daddy, Tristan Thompson. Megan Decker, Harper's BAZAAR, "Khloé Kardashian Just Gave a Heartbreaking Update About Baby True Thompson," 10 May 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

7 Nov 2018

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 \
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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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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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