Allude versus elude …

The Scribe spends most days sequestered in his office, slogging through judicial opinions. Although rarely inspired, the writing is usually competent. But the Scribe recently came upon this abomination in a judicial opinion: “In this case, arbitration’s convenience has alluded the parties.”


Upon regaining his senses and composure, the Scribe concluded that if a (presumably) learned jurist could make such a grotesque mistake, mere mortals, too, might be susceptible to the same error. And so it is that this week we consider “allude” and “elude.”

“Allude” means to refer to something indirectly or by suggestion. Note that “allude” is not the same as “refer.” Use “allude” to indicate a more subtle reference to something. And because “allude” means only an indirect reference to something, one cannot “expressly allude” to anything; an “express allusion” is an oxymoron.

Meanwhile, “elude” means to avoid or escape. In the sentence quoted above, the judge plainly meant to say that “arbitration’s convenience had eluded the parties.”

That is all for now …

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