What's the Difference Between “Elicit” and “Illicit”?

Elicit is always a verb meaning to bring about or deduce; illicit is an adjective that means unlawful. These two words sound very similar that even professional journalists incorrectly interchange them, as shown below:

  • Incorrect: The citation of contempt against private prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre has illicited debates among the spectating public.
  • Correct: The citation of contempt against private prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre has elicited debates among the spectating public.

Remember to use “elicit” if you intend to evoke something.  Meanwhile, use “illicit” to describe something illegalCarefully observe how these words are used in the following sentences:

  • The teacher’s questions elicited no response from her sleepy students.
  • Tina was confident that her proposal will elicit a positive response.
  • His distrustful attitude often elicits disagreement.
  • The global illicit drug market is enormous, estimated at some $320 billion.
  • Many Irish seek illicit encounters through online dating sites.
  • He made a documentary film about illicit antiquities trade.
Designed by Neil Yamit