Allude vs. Elude

Q: What’s the difference between “allude” and “elude”? Are they interchangeable? —Anonymous

A: “Allude” and “elude” are frequently misused in place of each other, even though they’re about as different as broccoli and ice cream.

“Allude” means to refer to something in a casual or indirect way. Michelle alluded to my tardiness by glancing at her watch when I arrived. My wife alludes to her birthday a week in advance by leaving a Things-I-Want list on the refrigerator.

“Elude,” on the other hand, means to avoid or escape from by quickness or cunning. Justin eludes the police by hiding in a bush. I eluded the school bully—and a wedgie—by ducking behind the principal’s car.

Make sure to use these words correctly in your writing. Otherwise, picky agents and editors may try to elude you.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

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0 thoughts on “Allude vs. Elude

  1. Corey Walls

    The HS education I got in the 80’s also taught me that "try to" is preferable to "try and". I guess we can all be grammar snobs if we try to (or try and).


  2. Bill

    This sort of error grabs my eye every time. I have seen “then” used were “than” should have been, “except” rather than (or is it then) “accept “, “effect” trading places with “affect”. I just read an email this morning at work where the author wrote “stop bye my office.

  3. Bev

    When did grammar change to allow a sentence to start with
    ‘me and Bill went shopping’ rather than ‘Bill and I went shopping’?

    I graduated from high school in 1947 and we had a grammar class and a literature class. My how grammar has changed.

  4. Michael E Cope

    I cannot believe anyone who has decided to try and write for publication, has to ask a question like that? I suppose that HS education that I got in the 50’s-60’s was much better than I first thought.
    Sorry, just had to say something when I saw the question.

    Be well, Michael


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