Make Your Editor Cry: Allude vs. Elude

Make Your Editor Cry:  Allude vs. Elude

The word allude is an intransitive verb meaning to make an indirect or ambiguous reference to something or (loosely) to refer to something. When you allude to something, you don’t identify it or mention it specifically. If you allude to the fact that a cop is sitting right behind you, your friends might stop talking about their plans to rob a bank.

Example:

We can only allude to certain points in mixed
company.
He kept the second part brief by alluding to comments he
made during part one.

Sidebar: I think there is an important distinction to be made here with respect to word choice. Regardless of the definition, to allude to something is to refer to it indirectly, by suggestion, or in a roundabout way. If you mention it directly and without any ambiguity, then you refer to the subject rather than alluding to it. Now back to the article.

The word elude means to successfully hide, avoid capture, or to escape the perception, understanding, or grasp of. Elude means “evade or escape,” like the way you might elude the other kids during a game of hide-and-seek. This word can also mean “to be hard to understand.” No matter how hard you try, the finer points of quantum physics might elude you.

Examples:

The rats eluded the traps.
The escaped convict managed to elude capture for weeks.
The subtlety between these definitions continues to elude
me.
A sound victory continued to elude us until that summer.

You can allude to your daughter’s membership in the honor society when bragging about her accomplishments, but a criminal tries to elude captivity.

Obviously, the two are not interchangeable and should not be confused.

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