‘Allude’ vs. ‘Elude’: What’s the Difference?

By Kelsey Weeks, updated on July 29, 2023

‘Allude’ vs. ‘elude,’ how do I use each of them? When evading, are you ‘eluding?’ When hinting at something, are you ‘alluding?’ How do we know?

A quick glance at the differences:

  • ‘Allude’ means to hint.
  • ‘Elude’ means to escape.

Both words are words in the English language. It is important to know the difference when speaking and writing to ensure that you communicate clearly. If you continue reading, there will be information on what the difference is between the two and how to use them.

What is the Difference Between ‘Allude’ and ‘Elude?’

The words ‘allude’ and ‘elude’ are both verbs; the difference lies in the definition. The words are sometimes considered homophones because they can sound the same but have different meanings.  These words are supposed to be said slightly differently than each other, but it is hard to catch the difference.

  • ‘Allude’ is a verb that means to hint at something. The spelling of this word comes from Latin ‘alludere’, which means to play with.
    • It is the meaning of the word coming from playing with words.
  • 'Elude’ is a verb that means to escape. The spelling of this word comes from a similar Latin root, ‘eludere.’
    • This word also means to play, but the word evolved from baffling or deluding, which has evolved into evading.

Definition of ‘Allude': What Does it Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘allude’ is a verb.

As a verb, it means:

  • To make an indirect reference
  • Refer

Synonyms of ‘Allude’

  • Hint
  • Imply
  • Indicate
  • Infer
  • Insinuate
  • Suggest
  • Mention

Antonyms of ‘Elude’

  • Explain
  • Declare
  • Announce
  • Proclaim
  • Describe

Definition of ‘Elude': What Does it Mean?

 ‘Elude’ is a verb.

As a verb, it means:

  • To avoid adroitly or to evade.
  • To escape the perception, understanding, or grasp of.
  • Defy.

Synonyms of ‘Elude’

  • Avoid
  • Dodge
  • Evade
  • Escape
  • Shun
  • Prevent
  • Shake
  • Deflect
  • Steers clear of

Antonyms of ‘Elude’

  • Seek
  • Accept
  • Pursue
  • Embrace
  • Welcome
  • Catch

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Allude’ and ‘Elude’

Pronunciation of English words can sometimes be tricky to grasp. To pronounce ‘allude’ and ‘elude,’ the second syllable will sound the same with a variation in the first syllable. It is important to say the first syllable clearly in a professional environment so that the point you are trying to make is clear.

  • The phonetic spelling of 'allude’ is:

                Uh lood

  • The phonetic spelling of 'elude’ is:

                Ill lood

When to use ‘Allude’ vs. ‘Elude’

Here are examples of when to use ‘allude’ and ‘elude.’

  • Use ‘allude’ to reference something without saying it directly.

In this example, you could teach someone about literature:

The writer ‘alludes’ to another of their previous works to encourage people to read all their writing.

  • Use ‘allude’ to hint at something upcoming.

For example, one can say:

In the future, there may be an item released that the fans would appreciate, but they will have to look through her posts to see what she is ‘alluding’ to.

  • You can use ‘elude’ when speaking of evading someone.

As an example, someone may report in the news:

The suspect continues to ‘elude’ police, but they are condensing their search efforts to a quadrant they are positive the suspect is in. 

  • You can also use ‘elude’ when stating you do not understand.

You may tell someone:

The concept we are learning in Chemistry eludes me, and this has me going to tutoring, which has not been effective yet.

Sample Sentences Using 'Allude'

Review these sample sentences to learn to use ‘allude’ when speaking and writing about hinting.

  • Many literary works ‘allude’ to references in the Bible. Although not always used as a religious reference, there are many story references due to the time the Bible has been around.
  • The teacher ‘alluded’ to a possible fun event if the students passed their final exam. She is not telling them exactly what to expect, but that there is a benefit besides the passing score to pass the test.
  • Whitney ‘alluded’ to her friend that she was uncomfortable with the time commitment from agreeing to their deal. She is working on her boundaries and hinting at it is progress in establishing those.
  • Jackson was ‘alluding’ to his vice president that there are many reasons that they would not consider Elliot for their cabinet position. The outbursts are not the only reason keeping him from joining the team.
  • The summary from the financial team ‘alludes’ that one section of the company is responsible for most of the spending. It also shows that they are responsible for much of the income.

Sample Sentences Using 'Elude'

Review these sample sentences to learn how to use ‘elude’ when writing or speaking about evading.

  • Joshua continues to ‘elude’ all the people searching for him in the game of Sardines, which is a game where a sole child hides, and the rest of the children search to find the child and join them in their hiding spot.
  • I ‘eluded’ my boss because I knew that they wanted to give me a new project as soon as I finished this one. I wanted to be able to refine this project instead of starting a new one.
  • Scientists continue to be ‘eluded’ by the cure for cancer, but they will continue to persevere and at least work towards reducing and preventing it until they are able to discover the cure.
  • They manage to ‘elude’ all additional duties that most employees have to do, and we have been observing them to see if we can learn their secrets to not having additional responsibilities because we are overworked.
  • Carmen Sandiego ‘eludes’ those searching for her again due to being in a super thief role. Carmen has been getting away with her escapades for over thirty years.

Closing Words on ‘Allude’ vs. ‘Elude’

A review of the words ‘allude’ and ‘elude’:

  • Both words are verbs.
  • ‘Allude’ means to hint at something or say it indirectly.
  • ‘Elude’ means to avoid or evade.

Although a lot of people say these words similarly, they do have different pronunciations and different meanings. Learning which one you want to reference will help you in all forms of communication and become proficient in the English language.

All posts on our website explain how to use tricky words correctly. Check back frequently to reduce the errors in your writing. You can find additional resources on English words in the confusing words section.

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Written By:
Kelsey Weeks
Kelsey Weeks is currently a school counselor at a high school and a previous English teacher. She loves helping others with literacy, learning more, and exploring nature. She has an undergrad in English with an emphasis on secondary education and an M.A. in Applied Psychology from NYU.

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