The first and only time I snuck out of the house, I was four. I figured that if I duck-walked below the kitchen window and hugged the picket fence until I got to the street, I could make it to my aunt’s house two doors away without my mother seeing me. I figured right. That might be the reason I like using sneaky words and being sneaky in general. What I didn’t count on was my aunt tattling on me. While I enjoyed the raisin cookie she gave me, she called my mother. That also might be the reason I don’t like raisin cookies.
I’m all for clarity in writing, but sometimes it’s good to be subtle. The three words featured in this writing tip are good examples of sneaky or subtle words: allusion (to allude), elusive/elude, and illusion. They are often misused, so here’s a short discussion on their usage:
Allusion is an indirect reference or subtle mention of something:
My aunt alluded to my disappearance when she told my mother to look around her house for a four-year-old, tow-headed girl in pigtails.
Elude means to cleverly escape from or avoid someone or something. Likewise elusive refers to something that is difficult to find, catch, or achieve:
Not even my clever idea and well-planned escape eluded my mother who (I found out later) had watched my getaway from the kitchen window.
Illusion is a false or unreal belief; or something that seems to exist but doesn’t, or seems to be something but isn’t. It is a false image, leaving false impressions.
I was living an illusion when I thought I could outsmart my mother.
Kathleen Kaska, Marketing Director