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, 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

Ronaldo - a five time winner of the UEFA Champions League - will make undoubtedly make Juventus the outright favourites to win an elusive European title over the course of the next four years. SI.com, "OFFICIAL: Juventus Confirm the Signing of Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo on a 4-Year Deal," 10 July 2018 Valore said, referring to Camden’s inability to capture the elusive 12th state title in the program’s fabled history. Phil Anastasia, Philly.com, "John Valore named new coach at Holy Cross Academy," 2 July 2018 The 3-year-old American thoroughbred racehorse, Justify, came into Saturday’s race hoping to attain the elusive Triple Crown title — reserved only for horses that win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes all in the same year. PEOPLE.com, "Justify Wins the Belmont Stakes, and Races Into History as the New Triple Crown Winner," 9 June 2018 Theo Epstein did just that, and the Cubs won that elusive World Series title in only five seasons. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "They're baaaack! Yankees' game plan working to perfection," 11 May 2018 But the holy grail of homeownership remains elusive. Jonnelle Marte, chicagotribune.com, "Black homeownership is stuck near 30-year lows," 6 July 2018 Despite all that, the exact reason why Mueller has become so focused on the inauguration remains elusive, and he hasn’t shed light on it publicly. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Why Trump’s inauguration money is a major part of Mueller’s Russia investigation," 5 July 2018 However, factors such as household income, homeownership, access to high-quality schools, and intergenerational wealth transfer demonstrate that equal access to opportunity remains elusive. Richard J. Reddick, Fortune, "How Undoing Affirmative Action Hurts America's Colleges," 5 July 2018 Progress will be evident even if the wins remain elusive. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "American Athletic Conference power rankings: Central Florida still the clear favorite," 2 July 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

7 Nov 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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