What Is Allusion in Writing? Learn About the 6 Different Types of Literary Allusions and Neil Gaiman’s Tips for Using Allusion in Writing

Written by the MasterClass staff

Last updated: Aug 25, 2021 • 3 min read

An allusion is a popular literary device. Allusions are used to develop characters, frame storylines, and help create associations to well-known works. Allusions can reference anything from Victorian fairy tales to popular culture, and from the Bible to the Bard. Take the popular expression “Bah humbug”—an allusion referencing Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol. The phrase, which is often used to express curmudgeonly dissatisfaction, is associated with the tale’s egregious character, Ebenezer Scrooge.