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 The vibe: Sleek MedSpa is as its name alludes — sleek! Miami Staff, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 As the stars alluded, Deadpool 3 is set to hit theaters April 26, 2024. Shania Russell,, 25 Jan. 2024 Speaking to the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast last week, executive producer Raj Kapoor alluded that Mitchell would perform the Clouds classic. Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone, 5 Feb. 2024 Jeff Bezos alluded us, but recently Andy Jassy joined Fortune at our annual CEO dinner in Davos. Fortune Editors, Fortune, 31 Jan. 2024 As Curry alluded, though, Golden State will need more than shouting to extend their dynasty. Danny Emerman, The Mercury News, 11 Jan. 2024 Christie alluded that others offer minimalistic solutions that don't make an indentation to the larger crisis. Kelsey Walsh, ABC News, 22 Dec. 2023 As the petition alludes, Kile isn’t the only one to fall victim to their death in Lake Lanier. Rayna Reid Rayford, Essence, 13 Dec. 2023 But now a problem arises: Joe Biden’s regulators, as Mr. Iger himself has alluded, likely are deterring deals that might otherwise be proposed. Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., WSJ, 10 Nov. 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 24 Feb. 2024.

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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