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 The defense team would not comment on Gregory McMichael's version of events, but alluded to the existence of video that could potentially support his case. Audrey Mcnamara, CBS News, "Lawyers for suspect in Ahmaud Arbery shooting say they have facts that "point to a very different narrative"," 15 May 2020 He has also mentioned by name or alluded to a long list of possible contenders. Katie Glueck, New York Times, "Biden Reveals Allies Who Will Help Pick a Running Mate," 30 Apr. 2020 He has also mentioned by name or alluded to a long list of possible contenders. Katie Glueck,, "Biden reveals allies who will help pick a running mate," 30 Apr. 2020 Paper printouts posted in another window alluded to Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara’s Today Series, which comprises more than 1,900 canvases painted with a deep blue, grey or red background and white text stating the day’s date. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Berlin Artists Turn Their Balconies Into Mini Galleries," 15 Apr. 2020 Arians said Brown wasn’t a fit in the locker room and alluded to Brown’s numerous incidents off the field. oregonlive, "Tampa Bay Buccaneers not interested in a Tom Brady-Antonio Brown reunion," 27 Mar. 2020 Some school districts are providing educational materials online for students and alluded to the possibility of remote learning after next week. Alia Malik,, "Parents scramble as schools extend Spring Break as a coronavirus precaution," 13 Mar. 2020 But developers can signal their intent to use the program by alluding to Opportunity Zones in the names of the funds that channel investments into the projects. Ariana Giorgi, Dallas News, "Dallas developers lobbied to receive a tax break meant to help the poor," 5 Mar. 2020 While that assessment was quickly picked up by media outlets as people, including Clinton, not personally liking Sanders, the full quote features her alluding to his Senate track record and support from his colleagues. Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hillary Clinton Says She "Won't Endorse" Anytime Soon," 5 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for allude

Time Traveler

The first known use of allude was circa 1531

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Statistics for allude

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Allude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for allude

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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