Allusion, Illusion, Delusion

Cover of "Essentials of English (Barron's...
Cover via Amazon

I have a book; called Essentials of English, A practical handbook covering all the rules of English grammar and writing style by Hopper, Gale, Goote, & Griffith.

Something tells me that you probably have the same handbook on your bookshelf or, at least, something very similar.

My copy is the Fifth Edition and is rather skimpy at 230 pages.  It’s like, really?  All the knowledge to write well is contained within a 230 page volume?  Including the index?

I don’t believe it.

Just in case, I have other grammar books to fill in any gaps one or the other might contain, but they all pretty much say the same thing.

But that’s not the point of this post.  Do I ever have a point?  No, but now we are just getting silly…the point is:

While reading through the entries under the Glossary of Words and Phrases Frequently Misused, I came across entry G12 (page 212).  It reads thus:

allusion, illusion, delusion An allusion is an indirect reference to a literary work or to a statement by another: “When she said, ‘To go or not to go, that is the question,’ Betty was using an allusion to Hamlet.”  An illusion is something that appears real to the perception, but is not: “Richard realized that although the magician seemed to be sawing a woman in half, it was an illusion.”  A delusion is also a false perception about one’s self or others, but is based more on a set of false beliefs than an unreal image: “Although he had achieved very little in school, Joseph had delusions of grandeur.”

After reading the very last phrase, delusions of grandeur, I realized that is what I have been doing for the past year.  Convincing myself that if I just tried hard enough, my incredible talent would burst through and wow the world.  I prefer to think that I’ve been having illusions of grandeur, visionary snippets of my future, but, sadly, it is most likely the former.  Either way, now I understand the difference between allusion, illusion and delusion.

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