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Allusion vs. Illusion #2

This article is about Allusion vs. Illusion #2 — enjoy your reading!

  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips

It’s not always easy to remember the meanings of English words. English contains many words borrowed or anglicized from a variety of earlier languages, so etymology is not always a clear indicator. Likewise, pronunciation varies from region to region, and even spelling is standardized according to separate American and British norms. Even with these obstacles in place, it’s not impossible to determine the meaning of English words, or to use them correctly. Allusion and illusion are two words that often confuse beginning writers or English language learners, but distinguishing between them is not difficult.

Should you use illusion or allusion in your writing? You can find out by reading this article.


Illusion originated from Middle English (in the sense ‘deceiving, deception’): via Old French from Latin illusio(n- ), from illudere ‘to mock’, from in- ‘against’ + ludere ‘play’. The word allusion originated in mid-16th century (denoting a pun, metaphor, or parable): from French, or from late Latin allusio(n- ), from the verb alludere.

Illusion as noun:

Illusion is used as a noun which means an instance of a wrong or misinterpreted perception of a sensory experience.

Stripes embellish the surface to create the illusion of various wood-grain textures.

Allusion as noun:

The word allusion is used as a noun in English language where it means an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.

An allusion to Shakespeare was reflected in their performance.


Anyone familiar with the works of noted author John Feinstein knows that title could be an allusion to his 1980s book about a legendary college basketball coach and the Indiana program. [Boston Herald]

Perhaps this is an allusion to traditional theories in these fields that neglected differences between people for the sake of mathematical simplicity. [Wall Street Journal]

George Bernard Shaw once said the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. [Daily Herd Management]

In short, the owners felt they were trading their right to privacy for the mere illusion of greater safety. [Vancouver Sun]

Allusion or illusion:

Since allusion and illusion are so close in terms of spelling, it can be frustrating to have to remember their different meanings. Many people mix up these words. You can be confident, however, that you know which one is correct. All you need to remember is that illusion contains the word ill. This should be easy to remember since looking at optical illusions makes many people feel ill. Now that you know the difference between these two words, you will never need to wonder whether to use allusion or illusion in your writing. You can always reread this article if you’d like a refresher on the meanings of these words.

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