Commonly Confused Words: Allude vs. Elude

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What does each word mean?

If you allude to something, it means you are making a disguised reference to it. 

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is allude used in some example sentences:

  • She alluded to who she was talking about without mentioning a name.
  • The novel alludes to current politics.

If you elude something, you avoid, evade, or escape from it.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is elude used in some example sentences:

  • She managed to elude capture. 
  • Sleep had eluded him for some nights now.


Where does each word come from?

Both of these words derive from ‘ludere’ which means ‘to play’ and is the root of many other words in English including ‘ludicrous’, ‘collude’, and ‘delude’. 

Allude entered English via the Middle French ‘alluder’ from the Latin ‘alludere’ meaning ‘to play, make fun of, joke, jest’. Originally the word meant ‘mock’ and it took on the meaning it has now from the 1530s.

Elude also entered English in the 1530s from the Latin ‘eludere’ meaning ‘win at play’ and ‘escape from’. While it originally meant ‘delude’ or ‘make fun’, the meaning evolved to mean ‘evade’ in the figurative sense in the 1610s and the literal sense in the 1630s.


Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between allude and elude?

Like synonyms ‘evade’ and ‘escape’, elude begins with the letter ‘e’.


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Sources: Online Etymology Dictionary 

19 Sep 2019
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One of the students has put in a huge amount of effort in completing Spellzone at least 3 times a week since his arrival with us in January. Looking at his scores after the latest GL testing, his standardised score has risen from 99 to 131. This is a truly phenomenal result. I just wanted to share the best result I have ever seen.

Terrie Penrose-Toms, Casterton College