Printable Version
Pronunciation: i-lud, e-lud Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. Evade capture cleverly, escape adroitly, craftily. 2. To be difficult to find, catch, describe or achieve.

Notes: The meaning of this word is elusive, one of the adjectives that comes with it. The other is elusory "just out of reach", as 'an elusory thought'. The action noun is elusion "escaping dexterously, evading adroitly".

In Play: The concrete sense of today's Good Word is poignantly illustrated by the wee men of Irish folklore: "Leprechauns are adept at eluding anyone attempting to get their pot of gold." The abstract sense is usually used to describe dreams, thoughts, and facts: "Sleep eluded Hank Epanki several nights after he put the frog in the water cooler."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Latin eludere "to finish playing" made up of e(x)- "away (from)" + ludere "to play, mock, delude". Latin ludere is based on PIE leid-/loid- "to play (with), joke", source also of ludicrous. Ancient Greek changed the same PIE root to lixei "plays". Apparently, the PIE stem didn't move beyond Greek and Latin. With the figurative the sense of "evade cleverly", elude first appeared in print in the 1610s, but by the 1630s this meaning had already become the literal one. (Let's not let the opportunity to thank Albert Skiles for submitting today's elusive Good Word elude us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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