Allude vs. Elude – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ June 29, 2017/ Uncategorized

allude versus elude

What’s the Difference Between Allude and Elude?

Both allude and elude function as verbs in English, so, in order to tell the difference, we must use context.

Allude is a verb that means to reference something indirectly; to hint at.

  • The reporter didn’t mention what was bothering her, but she alluded to family problems.

Also a verb, elude means to escape or evade.

  • Floyd Mayweather’s speed and agility to evade punches is unmatched.

The definitions of allude and elude have virtually nothing to do with each other, but they still sound enough alike that people confuse the two. The usual mistake is to use elude when one actually means allude.

Now, let’s go over a few ways to use these words in English.

Using Allude in a Sentence

When to use allude: Allude is defined as to suggest or call attention to indirectly; to hint at. Use allude when you want to refer to something without making a direct or explicit reference to it.

For example,

  • In the movie, they don’t say why she is in prison, but they allude to tax evasion.
  • Despite problems during filming, the cast didn’t allude to any bad blood between actors.

Occasionally, allude is misused for the word refer. This mistake is easy to avoid, however, because alluding to something is calling attention to it without directly mentioning it.

If you simply refer to something, you obviously directly mention it.

Using Elude in a Sentence

When to use elude: Elude is defined as escape or evade from a danger, an enemy, or a situation. Use elude when someone has escaped something.

For example,

  • The burglar evades police for three days before his arrest.
  • After playing in the league 10 years, the championship still eludes him.

As you can see from these two examples, evade can take on a literal or a figurative meaning.

In the first example, a criminal is literally eluding the police that are trying to find him. He is running; he is hiding; he is trying to evade the police’s detection.

In the second example, a player who has been in the league cannot seem to win a championship. Now, obviously, the championship is not literally eluding this player. A championship cannot make decisions or perform actions. In this sense, championship is being personified as evading the player.

Remembering Allude vs. Elude

There are two easy ways to remember which word to use and when.

First, since elude has to do with evading and escaping, all of which begin with the letter “e,” you have a built in mnemonic.

Second, you can remember that allude is to indirectly reference something because of the literary term allusion, which occurs when an author indirectly references another piece of literature.

Outside Examples

  • The newspaper’s editors would not disclose the source of their documents, nor did they allude to the method of their receipt in the article yesterday. –The New York Times
  • Combined with leather and woven fibers, these woods allude to the country’s rain forests, gauchos and fishermen’s nets. –The Wall Street Journal
  • The stunt is executed perfectly, with Kerrigan coming free inside as Stafford steps up in the pocket. Kerrigan looks to have a sack in the bag, but Stafford manages to elude him and scramble up the middle for a big gain. –The Washington Post
  • Auburn safety Stephen Roberts faces charges for attempting to elude police and possession of a handgun without a license, according to a police report obtained by USA TODAY Sports on Friday. –USA Today

Quiz: Allude vs. Elude

  • Jackson managed to ______ the defense for 50 yards until he reached the end zone.
  • She could not speak directly of the legal situation, but she did seemingly ______ to it.
  • I keep applying for the regional director position, but it always ______ me.
  • After attempting to ______ the officer, the suspect was placed under arrest.
  • This piece ______ to a famous work by Charles Dickens.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use allude or elude? Both of these words are verbs, but they have very different meanings.

  • To allude to something is to indirectly mention it.
  • To elude something is to evade it.

In short, you allude to things, and you simply elude things.


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