[uh-loo-zhuh n]


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 formspre·al·lu·sion, noun
Can be confusedallusion referenceallusion delusion elusion hallucination illusion (see synonym study at illusion) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for allusion

Contemporary Examples of allusion

Historical Examples of allusion

  • The allusion and a consciousness of Vancouver brought a smile into Viviette's eyes.


    William J. Locke

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


    William J. Locke

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

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for allusion



the act of alluding
a passing reference; oblique or obscure mention

Word Origin for allusion

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

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

allusion in Culture


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.