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

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Other Words from elusive

elusively adverb
elusiveness noun

Synonyms for elusive


evasive, fugitive, slippery

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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

September 26 About an hour before sunrise—and for the next two weeks afterward— keen skywatchers in the northern hemisphere can hunt down one of the most elusive of astronomical phenomena— Zodiacal Lights. Andrew Fazekas, National Geographic, "See Neptune at its best and more top stargazing in September," 1 Sep. 2019 Finding the obvious and the elusive To use eDNA to track species, scientists first multiply, then read, the segments found in a sample. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, The Mercury News, "Monterey Bay: Following the DNA trail in the Pacific Ocean," 11 Aug. 2019 The bird became a legend, a talisman, a symbol of elusive liberty and hope. James Poniewozik, New York Times, "‘Orange Is the New Black’ Taught Us What Netflix Was For," 17 July 2019 Situations like these, where solutions seem elusive, have been popping up a lot lately. Beth Spotswood, SFChronicle.com, "Stepping in to help — how could it be a misstep?," 12 June 2019 When these longtime mysteries are finally cracked, answers are supposed to pour out, the long-sought who filling in the elusive why. Kyle Swenson, Washington Post, "A newborn was left to die 26 years ago. A mother’s arrest has led to baffling new questions.," 10 June 2019 Sassanella’s confidence in Schweitzer never waned, and neither did the Royals who anxiously awaited the elusive final out at Bill Nixon Field during the Class 4A Plymouth Semistate. Rich Torres, Indianapolis Star, "Special bond, timely hitting and Division I arms propel Hamilton Southeastern to state title game," 8 June 2019 Raise interest rates The most obvious move has been the most elusive: Raise interest rates. Christopher Whittall, WSJ, "What Turkey Can Do if Market Troubles Return," 27 Aug. 2018 Illinois needs to fix its broken tax system, yet politically workable answers seem elusive. Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, "Slowik: Should you support keeping Illinois flat tax? It depends on your income," 12 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 2019

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 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on elusive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with elusive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for elusive

Spanish Central: Translation of elusive

Nglish: Translation of elusive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of elusive for Arabic Speakers

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 a temporary encampment

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