elu·​sive ē-ˈlü-siv How to pronounce elusive (audio)
: tending to elude: such as
: tending to evade grasp or pursuit
elusive prey
: hard to comprehend or define
: hard to isolate or identify
elusively adverb
elusiveness noun

Example Sentences

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 Yet, one prize — the grandest of them all — has been elusive. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, 22 Nov. 2022 Yet for all the talk of responsibility, the spending restraint is elusive. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2022 With just days until the midterm elections, getting a read on the U.S. economy can be elusive: The country remains a step ahead of a recession and the labor market is surprisingly strong, with most workers who want a job currently employed. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 4 Nov. 2022 There was something in the water in the filmmaking community at this time that has been elusive ever since, where even the nastiest material could be directed with a flourish that would send it down smoothly. Declan Gallagher, EW.com, 3 Nov. 2022 Vanderbilt 17-3 but the go-ahead goal was elusive until the final minute. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, 3 Nov. 2022 That includes limiting the number of penalties, re-igniting the rushing attack and finding a way to operate with a lead, which has been elusive all season. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, 1 Nov. 2022 Another win has been elusive, although the Wildcats came close last week against the Maumelle Hornets, 39-38 in overtime. Suzi Parker, Arkansas Online, 28 Oct. 2022 The respiratory phase of an EV-D68 infection is typically over by the time AFM symptoms develop, making positive respiratory samples elusive. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 13 Sep. 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.

Word History


see elusion

First Known Use

1719, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of elusive was in 1719

Dictionary Entries Near elusive

Cite this Entry

“Elusive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elusive. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



elu·​sive ē-ˈlü-siv How to pronounce elusive (audio)
: hard to find or capture : evasive
elusive prey
: hard to understand or define
an elusive idea
elusively adverb
elusiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on elusive

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