Grammar 101: Elude vs. allude

by IELTS Australasia — February 6th, 2019

Elude vs allude: Two words that can cause some confusion and it’s well worth to spend a few minutes to know the difference between the two.

To allude is to refer to something in an indirect manner. Elude usually escape from or avoid danger. Because “elude” and “allude” are homophones (words that sound alike), they are often confused – even by native English speakers. So, how to tell the difference between them? What is the meaning of elude, and what does allude mean? In this IELTS Grammar 101, we’ll give you some tips on telling them apart.

  • Meaning of elude and allude
  • Synonyms of elude and allude
  • Use elude and allude in a sentence

Click each topic to learn more about the differences between elude and allude.

Elude vs. allude: the difference
Elude

Is a verb: A word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience.

Allude

Is a verb: A word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience.

Elude vs. allude: the definitions
Elude
  • Elude generally means ‘to escape from or avoid a danger, an enemy, or a pursuer, typically in a skilful or cunning way.
  • It can also mean ‘to avoid compliance with (a law or penalty)’
  • Elude can also imply an achievement which fails to be attained by someone.
Allude
  • Is generally means ‘to reference something indirectly’ or ‘to hint at’
  • It can also mean ‘to mention without discussing at length’
Elude vs. allude: the synonyms
Elude

Could also mean (synonyms): evade, avoid, get away from, dodge, flee, escape (from), run (away) from.

Allude

The synonyms for this word include: refer to, suggest, hint at, imply, mention, touch on, mention in passing.

Elude vs allude: in a sentence
Elude

Using elude in a sentence: As we’ve explained above, elude is defined as ‘to escape from or avoid a danger.’ You can use elude when you want to avoid something, for example:

  • The thief eluded the authorities for months.
  • After playing in the league 10 years, the championship still eludes them.
Allude

How would you use allude in a sentence? Remember that allude can be defined as ‘to suggest; or indirectly call attention to something.’

  • In the movie, they don’t say why she is in prison, but they allude to tax evasion.
  • Michael alluded to Rebecca but he never actually mentioned her by name.

Reference: Cambridge Dictionary

Want to learn more about commonly confused words?

In written English, it is important to know the correct spelling of a word you want to use. You don’t want to write “weak” when you mean “week” even though they sound the same. In spoken English, spelling is less important, but pronunciation is. Think about the word “lead” which can be pronounced as “led” or “leed.” Because these words cause a lot of confusion, it’s well worth to spend a few minutes to know the difference: homophones vs homographs vs homonyms. Read more here.

People often use elude when they mean allude, or write allude when they should really write elude. There are other commonly confused words too: Do you know the difference between belief or believe? That is the question of another article where we explain the difference between these two commonly misused words. Read it here.