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 elusiveness

Contemporary Examples of elusiveness

Historical Examples of elusiveness

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for elusiveness



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 elusiveness



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper