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See more synonyms for elusive on Thesaurus.com
  1. eluding or failing to allow for or accommodate a clear perception or complete mental grasp; hard to express or define: an elusive concept.
  2. cleverly or skillfully evasive: a fish too elusive to catch.
  3. difficult to find: hoping that elusive donors will finally contribute.
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Also e·lu·so·ry [ih-loo-suh-ree, -zuh-] /ɪˈlu sə ri, -zə-/.

Origin of elusive

First recorded in 1710–20; elus(ion) + -ive
Related formse·lu·sive·ly, adverbe·lu·sive·ness, nounnon·e·lu·sive, adjectivenon·e·lu·sive·ly, adverbnon·e·lu·sive·ness, nounun·e·lu·sive, adjectiveun·e·lu·sive·ly, adverbun·e·lu·sive·ness, nounun·e·lu·so·ry, adjective
Can be confusedelusive illusory


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for elusive


  1. difficult to catchan elusive thief
  2. preferring or living in solitude and anonymity
  3. difficult to rememberan elusive thought
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Derived Formselusively, adverbelusiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for elusive


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper