allusion

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ALLUSION. An indirect reference. The term formerly included metaphors, parables, and puns, but now generally means implicit use of someone else's words. Whereas quotations usually come with acknowledged sources, allusions are indirect, even cryptic, sometimes dropped in passing, with little thought, sometimes used with care, so that a speaker or writer can share an understanding with certain listeners or readers. Allusions often adapt their originals to new ends, the audience making or failing to make the connections, as when the US journalist William Safire cries out in his column: ‘Ah, Fowler! Thou shouldst be living at this hour; usage hath need of thee’ (New York Times, July 1989). Here, Safire addresses the master of his craft much as Wordsworth once opened a sonnet: ‘Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour, / England hath need of thee.’ Similarly, Wordsworth's paradoxical statement ‘The Child is father of the Man’ is embroidered by the British television critic John Naughton when saying of Richard Burton, ‘the abandoned, motherless child was father to the volatile, generous, self-hating man’ (Observer, Sept. 1988). Newspaper headlines are often allusive: Amid the Alien Porn; Brontë village fears wuthering blight; A Chase That Stopped a Thousand Trips; The Laser's Edge; Comedy of Terrors. See ANALOGY, BIBLE, ECHOISM, QUOTATION, SHAKESPEARE.

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allusionabrasion, Australasian, equation, Eurasian, evasion, invasion, occasion, persuasion, pervasion, suasion, Vespasianadhesion, cohesion, Friesian, lesion •circumcision, collision, concision, decision, derision, division, elision, envision, excision, imprecision, incision, misprision, precisian, precision, provision, scission, vision •subdivision • television • Eurovision •LaserVision •corrosion, eclosion, erosion, explosion, implosion •allusion, collusion, conclusion, confusion, contusion, delusion, diffusion, effusion, exclusion, extrusion, fusion, illusion, inclusion, interfusion, intrusion, obtrusion, occlusion, preclusion, profusion, prolusion, protrusion, reclusion, seclusion, suffusion, transfusion •Monaghan • Belgian •Bajan, Cajun, contagion, TrajanGlaswegian, legion, Norwegian, region •irreligion, religion •Injun • Harijan • oxygen • antigen •sojourn • donjon • Georgian •theologian, Trojan •Rügen •bludgeon, curmudgeon, dudgeon, gudgeon, trudgen •dungeon • glycogen • halogen •collagen • Imogen • carcinogen •hallucinogen • androgen •oestrogen (US estrogen) •hydrogen • nitrogen •burgeon, sturgeon, surgeon

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al·lu·sion / əˈloōzhən/ • n. an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference: an allusion to Shakespeare a classical allusion. ∎  the practice of making such references, esp. as an artistic device.