Allude and Elude

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. . . as you move forward in this new world of social networking remember that each network has a specific purpose as Reid has eluded to in the video.

This comment on a business blog refers to a conversation between Charlie Rose and Reid Hoffman, founder of the business networking site Linkedin.

There are two problems with the writer’s use of the word “eluded” in this context.

1. The writer was reaching for the word alluded.

2. The word alluded is no more appropriate here than the word eluded.

In current usage elude means “to escape from something.”

The criminal has eluded the police for three years.

Elude can also mean “to get away from” in the sense of escaping one’s memory.

His name continues to elude me.

Allude is often used where the word refer or mention or describe would be the better choice.

The word allude means “to make an indirect reference to something.”

The speaker mentioned no names, but he alluded to the last governor by talking about “a helmet of hair.”

In the interview referred to in the above quotation, Hoffman is not being indirect. He describes the purpose of each social network under discussion. His remarks are specific and not indirect. For that reason the word allude is not appropriate either.

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5 thoughts on “Allude and Elude”

  1. My Chambers dictionary defines allude as (in part), vi (with _to_) to convey an indirect reference in passing; to refer without explicit mention or with suggestion of further associations; to refer. [Latin – alludere, from _ad_ at, _ludere_, _lusum_, to play]

    Allusion n. indirect reference
    Allusive adj. alluding, hinting, referring indirectly; canting (heraldry)

    I think it is the hint, the suggestion of further associations that I associate with allude.

    I might have used “described” or “presented” instead of eluded in the quote. Reid spends a couple of minutes on the character and nature of LinkedIn and Facebook, though the description of MySpace is somewhat limited.

  2. Well, maybe the writer was searching for “elicited” instead of “alluded” (elicited in the video). What do you think about it?

  3. I think the writer was reaching for the word “elucidated”. Probably teh writer must have thought Elude is a short form for elucidate but wouldnt have expected it conveyed a completly different meaning.
    Elucidated – Means Clarify/Explain

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