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[ih-loo-siv] /ɪˈlu sɪv/
eluding or failing to allow for or accommodate a clear perception or complete mental grasp; hard to express or define:
an elusive concept.
cleverly or skillfully evasive:
a fish too elusive to catch.
difficult to find:
hoping that elusive donors will finally contribute.
Also, elusory
[ih-loo-suh-ree, -zuh-] /ɪˈlu sə ri, -zə-/ (Show IPA)
Origin of elusive
First recorded in 1710-20; elus(ion) + -ive
Related forms
elusively, adverb
elusiveness, noun
nonelusive, adjective
nonelusively, adverb
nonelusiveness, noun
unelusive, adjective
unelusively, adverb
unelusiveness, noun
unelusory, adjective
Can be confused
elusive, illusory.
2. tricky, slippery, shifty; puzzling, baffling. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for elusively
Historical Examples
  • Faintly, elusively, it came to his mind, like the distant echo of a melody heard in a dream.

    Great Opera Stories Millicent Schwab Bender
  • But she said, elusively, that she took them at all sorts of times.

    Angela's Business Henry Sydnor Harrison
  • But also he advanced, though elusively, slipping to one side of those great paws.

    The Rich Little Poor Boy Eleanor Gates
  • He could dodge through the brush as elusively as any man in Wyoming.

    Wyoming, a Story of the Outdoor West William MacLeod Raine
  • A cruel foreknowledge of disaster overshadowed her; something unusual, elusively sinister, haunted her.

    A German Pompadour Marie Hay
  • He knew now whose had been the elusively familiar voice he had heard outside Maggie's door.

  • He turned and would have caught her to him, but she drew back, elusively, as might a swan.

  • Above all, she could be elusively lucid and make herself understood without any bluntness of statement.

    Tristram of Blent Anthony Hope
  • The wattle walls were not chinked; so the sweet night wind blew through freely; and elusively he saw stars against the night.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • But the phantom mother that haunted his memory so elusively was not like that, though he could not remember how she differed.

    Kipps H. G. Wells
British Dictionary definitions for elusively


difficult to catch: an elusive thief
preferring or living in solitude and anonymity
difficult to remember: an elusive thought
Derived Forms
elusively, adverb
elusiveness, noun
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 elusively



1719, from Latin elus-, past participle stem of eludere (see elude) + -ive. Related: Elusiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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