The act of alluding is to make indirect reference. It is a literary device, a figure of speech that quickly stimulates different ideas and associations using only a couple of words.
Allusion relies on the reader being able to understand the allusion and being familiar with the meaning hidden behind the words.
Describing someone as a "Romeo" makes an allusion to the famous young lover in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
In an allusion the reference may be to a place, event, literary work, myth, or work of art, either directly or by implication.
Examples of allusion:
- David was being such a scrooge!. (Scrooge" is the allusion, and it refers to Charles Dicken's novel, A Christmas Carol. Scrooge was very greedy and unkind, which David was being compared to.)
- The software included a Trojan Horse. (allusion on the Trojan horse from Greek mythology)
- to wash one’s hands of it. (allusion on Pontius Pilatus, who sentenced Jesus to death, but washed his hands afterwards to demonstrate that he was not to blame for it.)
- to be as old as Methusalem (allusion on Joseph’s grandfather, who was 969 years old according to the Old Testament)
There are many advantages when you use an allusion:
- You don't need to explain or clarify a problem in a lengthy way.
- You make the reader become active by reflecting on the analogy.
- You make your message memorable.