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 (ĭ-lo͞o′sĭv, -zĭv)
1. Tending to elude capture, perception, comprehension, or memory: "an invisible cabal of conspirators, each more elusive than the archterrorist [himself]" (David Kline).
2. 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 Latin ēlūsus, past participle of ēlūdere, to elude; see elude.]

e·lu′sive·ly adv.
e·lu′sive·ness n.


1. difficult to catch: an elusive thief.
2. preferring or living in solitude and anonymity
3. difficult to remember: an elusive thought.
eˈlusively adv
eˈlusiveness n
Usage: See at illusory


(ɪˈlu sɪv)

also e•lu•so•ry

(-sə ri, -zə-)

1. eluding one's clear perception; hard to express or define.
2. skillfully evasive.
[1710–20; elus (ion) + -ive]
e•lu′sive•ly, adv.
e•lu′sive•ness, n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.elusive - difficult to describe; "a haunting elusive odor"
unidentifiable - impossible to identify
2.elusive - skillful at eluding capture; "a cabal of conspirators, each more elusive than the archterrorist"- David Kline
artful - marked by skill in achieving a desired end especially with cunning or craft; "the artful dodger"; "an artful choice of metaphors"
3.elusive - difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze; "his whole attitude had undergone a subtle change"; "a subtle difference"; "that elusive thing the soul"
impalpable - imperceptible to the senses or the mind; "an impalpable cloud"; "impalpable shadows"; "impalpable distinctions"; "as impalpable as a dream"
4.elusive - making great mental demandselusive - making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or believe; "a baffling problem"; "I faced the knotty problem of what to have for breakfast"; "a problematic situation at home"
difficult, hard - not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure; "a difficult task"; "nesting places on the cliffs are difficult of access"; "difficult times"; "why is it so hard for you to keep a secret?"


1. difficult to catch, tricky, slippery, difficult to find, evasive, shifty I had no luck in tracking down this elusive man.


Characterized by or exhibiting evasion:
nehezen megfogható
ele geçmezkaypak


[ɪˈluːsɪv] ADJ [prey, enemy] → esquivo, escurridizo; [thoughts, word] → inaprensible; [success] → esquivo, difícil de conseguir
he is very elusiveno es fácil encontrarlo


[ɪˈluːsɪv] adj
[person, animal] → insaisissable
[quality, happiness, success] → insaisissable; [win, title, goal, prize] → hors d'atteinte; [solution, answer] → difficile à trouver


truthschwer fassbar; goal, target, successschwer erreichbar; (= unattainable)unerreichbar; happiness seems to be an elusive state for some peopleGlück scheint für manche Menschen ein unerreichbarer Zustand zu sein; there was an elusive quality about RobertRobert hatte etwas schwer Fassbares an sich (dat); financial success proved elusiveder finanzielle Erfolg wollte sich nicht einstellen; his answer to my question was elusiveer antwortete mir ausweichend
personschwer zu erreichen; animalscheu; preyschwer zu fangen; he remained elusiveer blieb unauffindbar


[ɪˈluːsɪv] adj (prey, enemy) → inafferrabile; (thoughts, word, success) → che sfugge; (glance) → sfuggevole
he is very elusive → è proprio inafferrabile


(iˈluːd) verb
1. to escape or avoid by quickness or cleverness. He eluded his pursuers.
2. to be too difficult etc for (a person) to understand or remember. The meaning of this poem eludes me.
eˈlusive (-siv) adjective
escaping or vanishing, often or cleverly. an elusive criminal.
References in classic literature ?
Also they made more grotesque an al- ready grotesque and elusive individuality.
People turned their heads to look at her, and more than one lent an attentive car to her utterances, hoping thereby to secure the elusive but ever-desired "tip.
Perhaps they were; or perhaps there might have been shoals of them in the far horizon; but lulled into such an opium-like listlessness of vacant, unconscious reverie is this absent-minded youth by the blending cadence of waves with thoughts, that at last he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and nature; and every strange, half-seen, gliding, beautiful thing that eludes him; every dimly-discovered, uprising fin of some undiscernible form, seems to him the embodiment of those elusive thoughts that only people the soul by continually flitting through it.
Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp.
It was very hard, but I turned back, though with a heavy heart, and began laboriously and methodically to plod over the same tedious ground at a snail's pace; stopping to examine minutely every speck in the way, on all sides, and making the most desperate efforts to know these elusive characters by sight wherever I met them.
Moreover, much about the same time as Firenzuola was writing, Botticelli's blonde, angular, retrousse women were breaking every one of that beauty- master's canons, perfect in beauty none the less; and lovers then, and perhaps particularly now, have found the perfect beauty in faces to which Messer Firenzuola would have denied the name of face at all, by virtue of a quality which indeed he has tabulated, but which is far too elusive and undefinable, too spiritual for him truly to have understood,--a quality which nowadays we are tardily recognising as the first and last of all beauty, either of nature or art,--the supreme, truly divine, because materialistically unaccountable, quality of Charm!
Unknown to Bell, there were several dozen inven- tors then at work upon this problem, which proved in the end to be very elusive.
When Woola had finished his meal I again took up my weary and seemingly endless wandering in quest of the elusive waterway.
So the boy smiled and donned the finery of the vanquished, and went his way with Akut, searching, always searching for the elusive anthropoids who were to welcome them with open arms.
What strange developments of humanity, what wonderful advances upon our rudimentary civilization, I thought, might not appear when I came to look nearly into the dim elusive world that raced and fluctuated before my eyes
It was an elusive vision--a moment of bewildering darkness, and then, in a flash like daylight, the red masses of the Orphanage near the crest of the hill, the green tops of the pine trees, and this problematical object came out clear and sharp and bright.
Before I could form a guess a faint flash of phosphorescent light, which seemed to issue suddenly from the naked body of a man, flickered in the sleeping water with the elusive, silent play of summer lightning in a night sky.