elu·sive | \ ē-ˈlü-siv , -ˈlü-ziv \

Definition of elusive 

: tending to elude: such as

a : tending to evade grasp or pursuit elusive prey

b : hard to comprehend or define

c : hard to isolate or identify

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Other words from elusive

elusively adverb
elusiveness noun

Synonyms for elusive


evasive, fugitive

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

But the film retained the underlying storyline of The Front Page, with its farcical mash-up of political corruption, criminal haplessness and journalistic ruthlessness in pursuit of the ever-elusive, adrenaline-inciting scoop. Julia M. Klein, Philly.com, "'His Girl Friday' at Hedgerow: Fast talk, fast pace," 2 July 2018 If George wants his long-elusive ring, proximity to LeBron (and maybe Kawhi) might be a good start. Greg Cote, miamiherald, "LeBron James has only 1 choice if he wants to meet the challenge of his legacy head-on," 30 June 2018 In California, lawmakers hope a proposal making its way through the legislature could force the U.S. Congress to settle the issue with a long-elusive federal standard. Anchorage Daily News, "The Web as you know it may soon be altered," 11 June 2018 In California, lawmakers hope a proposal making its way through the Legislature could force the U.S. Congress to settle the issue with a long-elusive federal standard. Tony Romm, latimes.com, "This week could reshape the internet: Net neutrality rules expire, and AT&T-Time Warner decision is due," 11 June 2018 The agenda for Mubarak’s August 2009 White House visit was an ever-elusive peace between Israel and the Palestinians, a classic example of presidential practicality in dealing with an oppressive ally. Eli Stokols, The Seattle Times, "Summits are tricky: Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan learned the hard way," 10 June 2018 Even after President Donald Trump’s executive order Wednesday ending the separation policy, the path to reunification remains elusive for families. Jennifer Levitz, WSJ, "After Border Separation, Family Tries to Get Nephew Out of Foster Care," 22 June 2018 The Colts have picks 36, 37 49 and 67 coming up this evening, giving them significant opportunities to find the playmaking that’s been elusive on this roster. Stephen Holder, Indianapolis Star, "Colts must find 'juice' on Day 2 of NFL Draft," 27 Apr. 2018 Although there’s a place for Gwyneth and Anderson, reservations are elusive to locals who’ve endeavored to make them with the online reservation service OpenTable, the electronic gnomes of which seem to be laughing at one’s attempt. Leah Garchik, San Francisco Chronicle, "Some 2018 Goldman winners give thanks to their governments," 26 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elusive.' 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 elusive

1719, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for elusive

see elusion

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Statistics for elusive

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elusive

The first known use of elusive was in 1719

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More Definitions for elusive



English Language Learners Definition of elusive

: hard to find or capture

: hard to understand, define, or remember


elu·sive | \ i-ˈlü-siv \

Kids Definition of elusive

1 : hard to find or capture elusive treasure an elusive thief

2 : hard to understand or define an elusive idea

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Comments on elusive

What made you want to look up elusive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make amends

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