Allude vs. Elude

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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 WritersDig@fwpubs.com 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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