elu·​sive ē-ˈlü-siv How to pronounce elusive (audio)
: tending to elude: such as
: tending to evade grasp or pursuit
elusive prey
: hard to comprehend or define
: hard to isolate or identify
elusively adverb
elusiveness noun

Examples of elusive in a Sentence

But for all their influence, D.C. lobbyists have failed to attain one elusive goal: public respect. Franklin Foer, New Republic, 25 Mar. 2002
In truth, the ideal of wholly disinterested scholarship—in any field of research—will probably remain an elusive one. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New York Times, 4 Apr. 1998
His meanings have been known to be elusive, which is why he appeals to pop cryptographers. Sarah Vowell, GQ, November 1998
This boson is so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive, that I have given it a nickname: the God Particle. Leon Lederman et al., The God Particle, 1993
The truth may prove elusive. the giant squid is one of the ocean's most elusive inhabitants See More
Recent Examples on the Web Rediscovering passion at work isn’t an elusive dream. Thomas Roulet, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 In the footage, the elusive kangaroo is seen hopping around the apartment complex's pool deck. Sarah Rumpf-Whitten, Fox News, 9 Feb. 2024 Make that a quadruple one, because Rivera possessed the elusive quality known as charisma that is necessary to drive cabaret acts and variety shows. Elisabeth Vincentelli, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Feb. 2024 Or that moment when an elusive character finally starts to talk to me. New York Times, 8 Feb. 2024 Brilliant and solitary, Dr. Kurzweil had always been an elusive figure, even in the years when Chowdhury had known him. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 6 Feb. 2024 The 28-year-old is on pace to earn her 32nd Billboard Hot 100 entry and a lofty debut on the elusive charts. Michael Saponara, Billboard, 2 Feb. 2024 That remains an elusive goal today, more than a generation later. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2024 And although not its primary purpose, the art also makes a statement about that elusive subject: What makes Charlotte Charlotte? Charlotte Observer, 30 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History


see elusion

First Known Use

1719, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of elusive was in 1719

Dictionary Entries Near elusive

Cite this Entry

“Elusive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elusive. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


elu·​sive ē-ˈlü-siv How to pronounce elusive (audio)
: hard to find or capture : evasive
elusive prey
: hard to understand or define
an elusive idea
elusively adverb
elusiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on elusive

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!