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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for elusively
Historical Examples
  • He turned and would have caught her to him, but she drew back, elusively, as might a swan.

  • But she said, elusively, that she took them at all sorts of times.

    Angela's Business Henry Sydnor Harrison
  • He could dodge through the brush as elusively as any man in Wyoming.

    Wyoming, a Story of the Outdoor West William MacLeod Raine
  • But also he advanced, though elusively, slipping to one side of those great paws.

    The Rich Little Poor Boy Eleanor Gates
  • 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
  • He knew now whose had been the elusively familiar voice he had heard outside Maggie's door.

  • But without a current established, it is surprising in turn to find how obstinately and elusively immovable it can be.

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

    Tristram of Blent Anthony Hope
  • 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
  • Then came a little valley overgrown with the pale purple bloom of thistles and elusively haunted with their perfume.

    The Golden Road Lucy Maud Montgomery
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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