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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 elusiveness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His Alpine climbing had taught him the elusiveness of isolated peaks of knowledge.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
  • Not an adventurer or escroc in Europe could compare with him in elusiveness.

    The Minister of Evil William Le Queux
  • "Desire-compelling, with the elusiveness of the rainbow's end," was another.

    Lady Bountiful George A. Birmingham
  • She possessed an elusiveness that captivates more surely than beauty.

  • The seat of the difficulty is in the elusiveness of the material.

    English: Composition and Literature

    W. F. (William Franklin) Webster
  • Even in its source the diamond is not without its element of elusiveness.

    An African Adventure Isaac F. Marcosson
  • The Black was a super-dog, for cunning and strength and elusiveness.

    Buff: A Collie and other dog-stories Albert Payson Terhune
British Dictionary definitions for elusiveness


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 elusiveness



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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