Definitions

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

  • adj. Tending to elude capture, perception, comprehension, or memory: "an invisible cabal of conspirators, each more elusive than the archterrorist [himself]” ( David Kline).
  • adj. Difficult to define or describe: "Failures are more finely etched in our minds than triumphs, and success is an elusive, if not mythic, goal in our demanding society” ( Hugh Drummond).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. evading capture, comprehension or remembrance
  • adj. rarely seen
  • adj. difficult to describe

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Tending to elude; using arts or deception to escape; adroitly escaping or evading; eluding the grasp; fallacious.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Eluding, or having a tendency to elude; hard to grasp or confine; slippery.

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

  • adj. difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze
  • adj. skillful at eluding capture
  • adj. making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or believe
  • adj. difficult to describe

Etymologies

From Latin ēlūsus, past participle of ēlūdere, to elude; see elude.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin elusus past participle of eludo ("to parry a blow, to deceive") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Bringing the discussion up to date, Orr finds that Jorie Graham, Geoffrey Hill, and Derek Walcott today are considered the epitome of ambition, while the quieter Kay Ryan finds the label elusive.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • He argued that unraveling these links is “devilishly” complex and thus “the connections between geology and wine will remain elusive for some time to come.”

    Rocks for shocks: geologists don’t “debunk” terroir; minerality questioned | Dr Vino's wine blog

  • Wickremesinghe was willing to forgo his long-term elusive presidential aspirations to former army commander Sarath Fonseka, whose entrance into politics was just as sudden and surprising as the ending of the war in which he played a significant role.

    Anuradha K. Herath: Sri Lanka's Opposition Party Crumbles in Public

  • Mostly we aspire to write, and reaching toward something mysterious and elusive is where the work actually lives.

    January « 2008 « Bill Ayers

  • Beckjord's letter, Bigfoot, elusive, is still here touched on the non-flesh and blood mindset within some Bigfooters.

    Archive 2007-07-01

  • I like to think of myself as a domestic ninja - stealthily cleaning in elusive little bursts ...

    Men Doing Housework As Sports

  • Atlanta has overcome a lot of adversity, and have become sentimental favorite among some to win elusive second World

    USA TODAY Latest news

  • Whereas Mr. Obama remains a complicated, enigmatic figure -- in the profile it published the day he delivered his acceptance speech, the New York Times called him "elusive" -- Mr. McCain has come into focus, becoming a candidate voters can understand.

    Why McCain Still

  • In fact, they’re already here but remain elusive leaving only their little red bite bump calling cards behind.

    Archive 2008-04-01

  • But with continuing government mandated domination of our national healthcare system, justice will remain elusive. datingjesus

    Buh-bye, Stupak-Pitts amendment. « Dating Jesus

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Comments

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  • Obi-Wan used this word when he had a bad feeling about something.

    June 19, 2012

  • Wars continue to ravage innocent lives, domestic violence is a growing calamity, divorce rates soar, churches split, and peace in our restless and wayward hearts seems to be an elusive dream.

    December 24, 2010