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Allusion and Illusion

Commonly Confused Words


The noun allusion means an indirect reference to a person, event, or thing.

The noun illusion is a noun that means false impression.

See also:


  • "The traditional lunchtime dish is called casado, or married man, a humorous allusion to the kind of repetitive meals that a man purportedly expects once he marries. The dish is in fact quite varied."
    (Chalene Helmuth, Culture and Customs of Costa Rica, 2000)

  • "The magician's illusion is always more interesting when the audience has no clue as to the method. The more impossible the illusion seems, the more magical it appears to be."
    (William V. Dunning, Changing Images of Pictorial Space, 1991)

  • The president spoke of "hills to climb" and seeing "the valley below," biblical allusions to Israel's escape from slavery. Some listeners felt that his hopeful message was based, unfortunately, on an illusion.


(a) A pleasant ______ is better than a harsh reality.

(b) The mayor's remark "Ich bin ein Springfielder" was an ______ to President John Kennedy's famous speech in West Berlin.

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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