elu·​sive | \ ē-ˈlü-siv How to pronounce elusive (audio) , -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

Other Words from elusive

elusively adverb
elusiveness noun

Synonyms for elusive


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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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web Some of these animals are elusive and hard to find; others are abundant and obvious. Ernie Cowan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Aug. 2022 Located deep beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota, the world’s largest dark matter detector has begun operations to hunt for this elusive and mysterious form of matter. Robert Lea, Popular Mechanics, 29 July 2022 So, now the preeminent honor of claiming zero, the elusive and mathematically important entity, rested with Cambodia. Scientific American, 28 July 2022 But Sinema has proven to be an elusive and mercurial figure since her election to the Senate in 2018. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 18 July 2022 Still, the bouts that could vault Harrison and the P.F.L. to new levels of prominence remain elusive and hypothetical. New York Times, 2 July 2022 Morgen’s testament to Bowie is as elusive and captivating as the artist himself. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 29 June 2022 And so, with 24 regular-season games remaining for the Utah Jazz after the All-Star break, hard-and-fast conclusions about this team remain frustratingly elusive and impalpable. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Feb. 2022 All of these challenges make treatment elusive and hard to formalize. Lindsey Botts, The Arizona Republic, 23 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of elusive

1719, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for elusive

see elusion

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Time Traveler for elusive

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The first known use of elusive was in 1719

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Statistics for elusive

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Elusive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elusive. Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for elusive


elu·​sive | \ i-ˈlü-siv How to pronounce elusive (audio) \

Kids Definition of elusive

1 : hard to find or capture elusive treasure an elusive thief
2 : hard to understand or define an elusive idea

More from Merriam-Webster on elusive

Nglish: Translation of elusive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of elusive for Arabic Speakers


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