al·​lude | \ ə-ˈlüd How to pronounce allude (audio) \
alluded; alluding

Definition of allude

intransitive verb

: to make indirect reference comments alluding to an earlier discussion broadly : refer

Usage of Allude

Allude is a word with playful roots—literally. It comes from the Latin alludere, which means "to play with," and shares the root of Latin ludere ("to play") with other English words, such as ludicrous and delude. One of the former meanings of allude was "to engage in wordplay": this sense is now long obsolete.

Although some people think that allude must always specifically entail an indirect reference, this is not the case; people have been using allude in the sense of "to refer to directly" for well over a century (as in "The Man Without a Country," the short story by Edward Everett Hale from 1863: "He never alluded so directly to his story again..."). So while allude may more commonly be used in the sense of expressing something indirectly, it is neither uncommon nor improper to use it to mean something more direct.

Allude need not always be followed by the preposition to, although that is the most common construction in modern usage.

Examples of allude in a Sentence

As alluded to previously, the entire universe may actually exist in a higher-dimensional space. — Clifford A. Pickover, Surfing Through Hyperspace, 1999 Adams had alluded to slavery in 1816, when he confided to Jefferson that "there will be greater difficulties to preserve our Union, than You and I, our Fathers Brothers Friends … have had to form it." — Joseph J. Ellis, American Heritage, May/June 1993 The more challenging problems in fact—ones that the optimists rarely allude to—will be the problems of success. — Charles R. Morris, Atlantic, October 1989 Mrs. Simons alluded to some health problems, without being specific.
Recent Examples on the Web The university’s statement on the firing did not even allude to the free speech issue. New York Times, 23 May 2022 Yet Citizen can also allude to the necessity of a therapeutic relationship—a deep need to call out, to question, to return to, to remember, to speak of the past; and the twin need for someone to listen. Ana Cecilia Alvarez, The Atlantic, 1 May 2022 Agrawal himself appeared to allude to that impact when he was named CEO. Clare Duffy, CNN, 9 Apr. 2022 The traffic stop that would end his life came three days later. Lyoya seemed to allude to his troubles in a Facebook post from August 2020. Washington Post, 2 May 2022 Around the same period, Biggs seemed to allude to taking drastic steps in an interview with conservative activist Charlie Kirk. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, 25 Apr. 2022 In performance and in paintings, Monkman, 57, morphs into Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, strapping and strong-jawed, lipsticked and rouged, striding on stilettos through epic landscapes that allude to works by 19th-century Romantics. New York Times, 17 Feb. 2022 Among the statements highlighted by the Democrat group: Trump's comments last month to the Conservative Political Action Conference that appeared to allude to a third presidential bid. Fredreka Schouten, CNN, 14 Mar. 2022 Pence will also allude to a possible presidential run in 2024. Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY, 4 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'allude.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of allude

circa 1531, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for allude

Latin alludere, literally, to play with, from ad- + ludere to play — more at ludicrous

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Time Traveler for allude

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The first known use of allude was circa 1531

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Dictionary Entries Near allude



allude to

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Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Allude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for allude


al·​lude | \ ə-ˈlüd How to pronounce allude (audio) \
alluded; alluding

Kids Definition of allude

: to talk about or hint at without mentioning directly

More from Merriam-Webster on allude

Nglish: Translation of allude for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of allude for Arabic Speakers


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