A lot of people confuse between the two similar-sounding words like allude and elude. The confusion might lead them to use the words in inappropriate places and have a funny result. This Penlighten article clears the ‘elude vs. allude’ confusion.
The words allude and elude can be considered as homophones as they sound similar but are spelt differently.
The words, ‘allude’ and ‘elude’, are both verbs, which means they form the predicate of a sentence, denoting the action the subject takes. However, the meanings of the two words are different. They sound very similar and the difference in their spellings is also very small. This is the reason why people confuse between them. Let’s understand their individual meanings and their usage in sentences.
Meaning of Elude
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the verb ‘elude’ means, to avoid or escape (someone or something) by being quick, skillful, or clever, to fail to be understood or remembered by (someone), and to fail to be achieved by (someone).
Meaning of Allude
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the verb ‘allude’ means, to make indirect reference.
According to their meanings, these verbs denote different actions. The verb elude means ‘to escape mentally or physically’. On the other hand, the verb allude means ‘to make a more or less distinguished or passing reference to something’. This shows that these verbs can be used only in different contexts. Another observation is that the use of ‘allude’ is followed by ‘to’, while the use of ‘elude’ is not. Let us look at the following examples to understand how to use these verbs correctly.
He alluded to the problem without solving it.
In the above sentence, the subject is ‘he’, the verb is ‘alluded’, and the object is ‘the problem’. The subject undertakes the action of alluding to the problem, which means the subject has only referred to the problem and not solved it. It can also mean that the subject has only touched upon the problem rather than working on it.
The murderer eluded the police.
In the above sentence, the subject is ‘the murderer’, who undertakes the action of eluding the police. It refers to the fact that the murderer has run away from the police.
Let us see a few more examples
► The Animal Farm by George Orwell alludes to the lack of morality of the communist government.
► The answer to this puzzle eluded him until the hint was given.
► She alluded to our earlier discussion about going out.
► Her name eluded me, but her face was familiar.
Though they sound similar, you can easily differentiate between the words ‘elude’ and ‘allude’. However, when you want to be sure about their usage, it is a good idea to refer to a dictionary.
If this article has helped you understand the difference between these two words, take this quiz to confirm if you have understood it right.