The Easy Explanation
“Allude” is a verb that means to refer to indirectly: She alluded to her father’s criminal history, but never discussed it outright.
“Elude” is also a verb and means to avoid or escape: Her father had eluded capture for seven years.
When to Use Allude vs. Elude
While these two words have similar pronunciations, they mean very different things.
The word “allude” is a verb that means to refer to indirectly (as in alluded to the past).
The word “elude” is a verb that means to avoid or escape (as in to elude authorities).
Examples of Allude vs. Elude
- His coworker had alluded to problems at home. (meaning made indirect reference to)
- His name eluded me, but his face was familiar. (meaning to escape)
How to Remember the Difference
The similarity between the words can make it difficult to remember which word has one “l” and which word has two, so misspellings of “alude” or “ellude” are common. To remember the correct spelling and definition, memorize the sentence “All allude means is to refer to.”
Theory Into Practice: Which Is Which?
Is the underlined word correct? See if you can tell.
- She elluded to our earlier discussion about eloping.
Wrong: This means to refer to indirectly, so it should be “alluded.”
- Sometimes the right thing to do just elludes teenagers.
Wrong: This is the correct word (“eludes”), but it is spelled incorrectly. Tricky!