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Allude vs. Elude (Definition & Examples)

To allude means to hint at something, or to indirectly refer to something. To elude is to avoid or escape, often in a skillful or cunning way.

'Elude' used in conversation.
‘Elude’ used in conversation.

“Elude” vs. “allude”

For today’s lesson, let’s take a look at a commonly confused pair of homophones: elude and allude. What’s the difference between these words, and what’s their correct use in writing? Let’s investigate.

What does “elude” and “allude” mean?

To elude is a verb that means to “evade or escape from (a danger, enemy, or pursuer), typically in a skillful or cunning way: he managed to elude his pursuers by escaping into an alley.Elude is similar in meaning to avoid, escape from or evade.

Allude is also a verb, and means to ‘make an indirect reference: comments alluding to an earlier discussion.’ In this way, when we allude, usually towards something, it’s similar to insinuate, hint at or imply.

Sentence with ‘eludeSentence with ‘allude’
He thought he would elude the police for weeks.Her comments allude to a preference for earlier forms of art.

The history of allude and elude

When in doubt, look to the language of origin. While elude and allude are both verbs, this is not all that they have in common: both derive from the same Latin root word, ludere, meaning “to play”. The prefix for elude is ex– “out, away”. When attached to the root word (ludere), we get out + play, which is close in meaning to elude.

The prefix for allude, ad– “to, toward”, when paired with the root word ludere means “to play” + “toward, to”. In other words, to play towards something, i.e., hint at or suggest. Both words describe a playful avoidance or evasion of a kind, but in a different manner.

“Allude” / “elude”, used in sentence examples

Examples: “allude’ used in sentences
She subtly alluded to her upcoming surprise without giving away any details.

The author’s clever wordplay in the novel allowed her to allude to historical events without explicitly mentioning them.

His comment seemed to allude to a secret that only a few people were aware of.

The painting contained hidden symbols that alluded to the artist’s personal struggles.

During the lecture, the professor would often allude to famous philosophers to support his arguments.
Examples: “elude’ used in sentences
The clever criminal managed to elude the police by using a network of hidden tunnels.

Despite hours of searching, the answer to the riddle continued to elude them.

The butterfly’s delicate beauty seemed to elude capture as it flitted from flower to flower.

The secret code proved to be so complex that even the best cryptographers couldn’t elude its meaning.

The athlete’s graceful movements allowed him to effortlessly elude his opponents on the field.

Allude, synonyms

  • suggest
  • hint at
  • imply
  • insinuate
  • broach
  • make an allusion to
  • infer

Elude, synonyms

  • evade
  • avoid
  • dodge
  • flee
  • escape from
  • slip away from
  • shake off
  • eschew

The origin of elude & allude

1530s, “delude, make a fool of,” from Latin eludere “finish play, win at play; escape from or parry (a blow), make a fool of, mock, frustrate; win from at play,” from assimilated form of ex “out, away” (see ex-) + ludere “to play”.

1530s, “to mock” (transitive, now obsolete), from French alluder or directly from Latin alludere “to play, make fun of, joke, jest,” … “to” (see ad-) + ludere “to play” (see ludicrous). The meaning “make an indirect reference, point in passing” is from 1530s.

In review: elude vs. allude

  1. Elude generally means to escape or avoid something skillfully, to evade or evade capture, or to fail to be understood or grasped.

  1. Allude means to suggest or indirectly reference something, often without explicitly stating it.

‍Read about other commonly confused words

Commonly misused wordsUK English vs. US English
former vs. latterburned or burnt?
bear with vs. bare withcolor or colour?
breathe or breathfavorite vs. favourite
compliment vs. complementsmelled or smelt?
effect vs. affectgray or grey?
insure or assure?favor vs. favour
it’s or itsanalyze or analyse?


  1. Oxford languages, elude. Accessed on August 11, 2023.
  2. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of elude.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 12 August, 2023.
  3. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of allude.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 12 August, 2023.

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