Friday, August 23, 2013

Get It Right: Allusion And Illusion

A couple of days ago, we warned you of 5 signs you may be a member of the "grammar police". Today we continue to prove that we fall somewhere in that category as we help you to discern the difference between the similarly spelled nouns allusion and illusion


If you were paying attention in English class in high school, you should at least vaguely remember that allusion is a term often used in literature. It comes from the Latin term alludere, and is a figure of speech that implies or indirectly refers to something else, be it a person, place, or piece of literature.

Biblical allusions are popular in everything from literature to television shows, while Shakespearean allusions are found nearly everywhere, including in the lyrics of Taylor Swift songs. People can also make allusions to things that have happened in their past, from childhood traumas to ex-girlfriends.

An optical illusion - those diagonal lines are parallel!

An illusion, on the other hand, is something that distorts the senses or is misleading in how it is perceived. It comes from the Latin term illudere, meaning "to mock". There are many different types of illusions, but the most commonly known ones are optical illusions.

Video games can give you the illusion that you're a warrior or a pilot. Materials can be created to give the illusion that they're something they're not, such as pleather (artificial leather) looking like real leather, or laminate floors designed to look like they're made of wood. The physical appearance of some insects can even be an illusion, leading their predators to believe that they're actually leaves or twigs so that they can remain unharmed.

Is there another common spelling or grammar mistake that you feel needs correcting? Let us know in the comments and we may address it in the future.