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 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

Synonyms for elusive

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for elusively

Historical Examples of elusively

  • 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.

  • But also he advanced, though elusively, slipping to one side of those great paws.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for elusively



difficult to catchan elusive thief
preferring or living in solitude and anonymity
difficult to rememberan elusive thought
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 elusively



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper