from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The act of alluding; indirect reference: Without naming names, the candidate criticized the national leaders by allusion.
  • n. An instance of indirect reference: an allusion to classical mythology in a poem. See Usage Note at allude.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An indirect reference; a hint; a reference to something supposed to be known, but not explicitly mentioned; a covert indication.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A figurative or symbolical reference.
  • n. A reference to something supposed to be known, but not explicitly mentioned; a covert indication; indirect reference; a hint.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A play upon words; a pun.
  • n. A symbolical reference or comparison; a metaphor.
  • n. A passing or casual reference; a slight or incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication; a hint or reference used by way of illustration, suggestion, or insinuation: as, a classical allusion; an allusion to a person's misconduct.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. passing reference or indirect mention


Late Latin allūsiō, allūsiōn-, a playing with, from Latin allūsus, past participle of allūdere, to play with; see allude.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin allūsiōnem, accusative singular of allūsiō ("the act of playing with"), from allūdō ("play with; allude"), from al-, combining form of ad ("to"), + lūdō ("play"): compare French allusion. (Wiktionary)



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  • This caused developers to refer to the Internet as the wild, wild Web, an allusion to the days of the wild, wild West in the US when law and order were pretty much nonexistent.

    December 29, 2010

  • You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? James 4:4a is an allusion to covenant unfaithfulness.

    December 15, 2010

  • Often confused in writing with "illusion."

    March 26, 2009