Allusive, Elusive, or Illusive

All of these words can sound alike and thus, be confusing to anyone.  So, in this post we will strictly look at the definitions and different versions of the words defined.  Note: the suffix –ive indicates a present action.  Each of the following words is an action word.

Allusive:  From the word allude.  Allude means to make a reference that is indirect or implied.  So, to be allusive means to be in the act of alluding; to be hinting at something.

Elusive:  From the word elude.  Elude means to avoid usually with some demonstration of resourcefulness.  Elude can also mean to escape understanding, most times conceptually.  To be elusive is to be in the act of eluding; tending to avoid pursuit, being difficult to understand or being difficult to isolate.

Illusive:  From the word illusion.  An illusion is the action of deceiving visually or mentally.  Illusions can be misleading images seen or something that causes one to be mislead mentally.  Illusive derives from illusory which is the act of creating an illusion.

It always helps to know the root words in words with a common suffix.  I hope I wasn’t being too elusive!

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

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Pamela Hilliard Owens

CEO/Head Writer and Editor at The Writing It Right For You Companies
Pamela Hilliard Owens, M.Ed. is the founder, CEO, and Head Writer/Editor/Publisher/Marketer for three global companies headquartered at the Green Garage in Detroit, Michigan: Writing It Right For You (, Detroit Ink Publishing (, and Your Business Your Brand Creatively ( She works with her husband, award-winning writer and journalist and musician, Keith A. Owens (
Here I Am!

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