Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-lud Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: To refer to indirectly, without giving specific details identifying the reference.

Notes: Today's Good Word has a large and happy family, including a noun, allusion, and two, yes two, good adjectives: allusive and allusory. The trick is not to confuse the noun allusion and the adjective allusory with illusion "deceptive appearance" and its adjective, illusory, which are pronounced almost identically: [ê-lu-zhên] (allusion) versus [i-lu-zhên] (illusion). Finally, don't let today's word, allude, get crossed up with elude "to avoid, escape from".

In Play: If you say, "Henry got a raise; he should pay the bill", you refer to Henry's raise. However, if you say, "Henry is in a better position to pay the bill," you are alluding to his raise because it isn't mentioned specifically. Allusions are conveyed by implication: "I suppose you are alluding to my friendship with Portia Carr when you say that I am quite a ladies' man."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken directly from Latin alludere, "to play with", made up of ad "to(ward)" + ludere "to play". Ludere is based on the noun ludus "game". Since this root does not appear in other Indo-European languages, we assume that Latin did not inherit it from Proto-Indo-European but borrowed it from Etruscan, an ancient non-Indo-European language of Italy. English did borrow a slew of words containing the Latin root, however; they include ludicrous, interlude, prelude and, of course, today's Good Word.

Dr. Goodword,

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