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[uh-loo-zhuh n] /əˈlu ʒən/
a passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication:
The novel's title is an allusion to Shakespeare.
the act of alluding; the making of a casual or indirect reference to something:
The Bible is a fertile source of allusion in art.
Obsolete. a metaphor or parable.
Origin of allusion
1540-50; < Late Latin allūsiōn- (stem of allūsiō), equivalent to allūs(us), past participle of allūdere (see allude; al- + lūd- play + -tus past participle suffix) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
preallusion, noun
Can be confused
allusion, reference.
allusion, delusion, elusion, hallucination, illusion (see synonym study at illusion) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for allusion
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The allusion and a consciousness of Vancouver brought a smile into Viviette's eyes.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • Austin, who did not see the allusion, had to allow Dick to speak for himself.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • The youth vanishes; no reader can find a trace of him, or even an allusion to him.

    The Man Shakespeare Frank Harris
  • Strange to say, he made no allusion to his daughter's return nor to Jim's absence.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • I have been early taught to shun all allusion to his memory.

    Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for allusion


the act of alluding
a passing reference; oblique or obscure mention
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin allūsiō, from Latin allūdere to sport with, allude
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for allusion

1540s, from Latin allusionem (nominative allusio) "a playing with, a reference to," noun of action from past participle stem of alludere (see allude). An allusion is never an outright or explicit mention of the person or thing the speaker seems to have in mind.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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allusion in Culture

allusion definition

An indirect reference to some piece of knowledge not actually mentioned. Allusions usually come from a body of information that the author presumes the reader will know. For example, an author who writes, “She was another Helen,” is alluding to the proverbial beauty of Helen of Troy.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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