An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or
representation of, a place, event, literary work, myth, or work of art, either
directly or by implication. . . . An expression designed to call something to
mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.
English Dictionary: A covert, implied, or indirect reference; a passing or
Latin allusio: game, play on words
Examples adapted from YourDictionary.com
Here are some examples that allude to people or events in
- “I was surprised his nose
was not growing like Pinocchio’s.”
This allusion refers to the story of
Pinocchio, where his nose grew whenever he told a lie. It is from
The Adventures of Pinocchio,
written by Carlo Collodi.
- “When she lost her job, she
acted like a Scrooge, and refused to buy anything that wasn’t necessary.”
Scrooge was an extremely stingy character from Charles Dickens’s
A Christmas Carol.
- “I thought the software would be useful, but it was a
This refers to the horse that the Greeks built that
contained soldiers, which was given as a gift to the enemy during the Trojan
War; once inside the enemy's walls, the soldiers broke out. By using
trickery, the Greeks won the war. Comparably, the software mentioned above
may have contained a destructive virus.
- “He was a real Romeo with the ladies.”
character in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, was very romantic
in expressing his love for Juliet.
- “Chocolate was her Achilles’ heel.”
signifies that her weakness was her love of chocolate. Achilles, a character
in Greek mythology appeared invincible because his mother, holding him by
the heel, dipped him in magical water when he was a baby, so that he was
protected all over except for his heel.
Many biblical allusions are used in our everyday language and
- “He was a Good Samaritan yesterday when he helped the
lady start her car.” This refers to the biblical story of the Good
- “She turned the other cheek after she was cheated out of
a promotion.” This comes from teaching of Jesus that you should not get
- “This place is like a Garden of Eden.” The Garden of Eden
was the paradise God made for Adam and Eve.
- “You are a Solomon when it comes to making decisions.”
This refers to King Solomon, who was very wise.
- “When the volcano erupted, the nearby forest was
swallowed up in dust and ash like Jonah.” Jonah was a person who was
swallowed alive by a whale.
- “It is raining so hard, I hope it doesn’t rain for 40
days and 40 nights.” This makes a reference to the biblical story of Noah
and the ark he built. He was told by God that it would rain for 40 days and
40 nights and flood the land.