Figures of Speech – Allusion with Examples

Figures of Speech – Allusion

What is an allusion?


The act of alluding is to make indirect reference. It is a literary device, a figure of speech that quickly stimulates different ideas and associations using only a couple of words.

Allusion relies on the reader being able to understand the allusion and being familiar with the meaning hidden behind the words.


Describing someone as a “Romeo” makes an allusion to the famous young lover in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

In an allusion the reference may be to a place, event, literary work, myth, or work of art, either directly or by implication.

Examples of allusion:

  1. David was being such a scrooge!. (Scrooge” is the allusion, and it refers to Charles Dicken’s novel, A Christmas Carol. Scrooge was very greedy and unkind, which David was being compared to.)
  2. The software included a Trojan Horse. (allusion on the Trojan horse from Greek mythology)
  3. to wash one’s hands of it. (allusion on Pontius Pilatus, who sentenced Jesus to death, but washed his hands afterwards to demonstrate that he was not to blame for it.)
  4. to be as old as Methusalem (allusion on Joseph’s grandfather, who was 969 years old according to the Old Testament)

There are many advantages when you use an allusion:

  1. You don’t need to explain or clarify a problem in a lengthy way.
  2. You make the reader become active by reflecting on the analogy.
  3. You make your message memorable.

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