Definition of elusive in English:



  • 1Difficult to find, catch, or achieve.

    ‘success will become ever more elusive’
    • ‘Reedie had been praying for that first elusive gold to come from Simon Lessing in today's men's triathlon.’
    • ‘So this formula, this test, to see whether or not you're compatible has been elusive so far.’
    • ‘He would then retreat, hoping to catch the elusive man in their new round.’
    • ‘Birdwatchers from all over the country have descended on a nature reserve in Cheshire in search of a rare and elusive bird.’
    • ‘The song became an instant hit and proved to be the group's entry into the elusive U.S. market.’
    • ‘Selling is in our American blood, and the ability to do it well is elusive and admired.’
    • ‘It's about the people who come to America in search of that elusive thing, the American dream.’
    • ‘All the evidence suggests that this is one of the key times to catch an elusive 40 pounder.’
    • ‘But persuading the elusive birds to quit their historic lodgings has proved to be quite a headache.’
    • ‘As Cherwell's editorial bemoans of our current situation, a solution is elusive.’
    • ‘Women walk miles on the blazing sands in search of an elusive pot of water.’
    • ‘With off-road vehicles and guns, this is a boy's day out, and all in pursuit of that elusive plump little bird.’
    • ‘Pre-baiting an area that looks good is often the answer to catching one of these elusive carp.’
    • ‘Vogue tried to cement what it had, even locating an elusive Leon Smet!’
    • ‘That run should have sharpened her up sufficiently to get those elusive winning brackets.’
    • ‘There is even a personal shopping service, providing further help in tracking down that elusive pair of shoes.’
    • ‘Naturally, that persistent little squirrel is still driving himself nuts in pursuit of an elusive acorn.’
    • ‘Bringing horses of that calibre to Scotland remains the elusive dream.’
    • ‘Taylor is still searching for that elusive first tour win but is not setting herself any future goals and targets in the sport.’
    • ‘He was injured last season, so we had to wait over a year before this elusive 100th was achieved!’
    difficult to catch, difficult to find, difficult to track down
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Difficult to remember or recall.
      ‘the elusive thought he had had moments before’


Early 18th century: from Latin elus- eluded (from the verb eludere) + -ive.