elic·​it | \ i-ˈli-sət How to pronounce elicit (audio) \
elicited; eliciting; elicits

Definition of elicit

transitive verb

1 : to call forth or draw out (something, such as information or a response) her remarks elicited cheers
2 : to draw forth or bring out (something latent or potential) hypnotism elicited his hidden fears

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Other Words from elicit

elicitation \ i-​ˌli-​sə-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce elicitation (audio) , ˌē-​ \ noun
elicitor \ i-​ˈli-​sə-​tər How to pronounce elicitor (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for elicit


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Choose the Right Synonym for elicit

educe, evoke, elicit, extract, extort mean to draw out something hidden, latent, or reserved. educe implies the bringing out of something potential or latent. educed order out of chaos evoke implies a strong stimulus that arouses an emotion or an interest or recalls an image or memory. a song that evokes warm memories elicit usually implies some effort or skill in drawing forth a response. careful questioning elicited the truth extract implies the use of force or pressure in obtaining answers or information. extracted a confession from him extort suggests a wringing or wresting from one who resists strongly. extorted their cooperation by threatening to inform

The Latin Roots of Elicit

Elicit derives from the past participle of the Latin verb elicere, formed by combining the prefix e- (meaning "away") with the verb lacere, meaning "to entice by charm or attraction." It is not related to its near-homophone, the adjective illicit—that word, meaning "unlawful," traces back to another Latin verb, licēre, meaning "to be permitted." Nor is elicit related to the verb solicit, even though it sounds like it should be. Solicit derives from Latin sollicitare ("to disturb"), formed by combining the adjective sollus, meaning "whole," with the past participle of the verb ciēre, meaning "to move."

Examples of elicit in a Sentence

If ever there was a two-way pleasure street, it's the delight a baby takes in being tickled and the joy the parent experiences in the tumble of laughter it elicits. — Jeffrey Kluger, Time, 17 Jan. 2005 Gingrich elicits perhaps the greatest sympathy when he talks about the challenge of graduating from a rabble-rousing backbencher in the House minority to presiding over (and trying to control) the first Republican majority in 40 years. — Richard L. Berke, New York Times Book Review, 17 May 1998 In a wild, captive wolf that is not socialized to man, approach will elicit flight and, if the wolf is cornered, a defensive reaction may be triggered, which is termed the critical-distance reaction. — Michael W. Fox, The Soul of the Wolf, 1980 She's been trying to elicit the support of other committee members. My question elicited no response. She's been unable to elicit much sympathy from the public.
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Recent Examples on the Web Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, Ed Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, Amy Madigan, Diane Ladd and the late Peter Fonda – but also elicited some astonishing dramatic moments on film. Mark Kennedy, Detroit Free Press, "‘Last Full Measure’ fumbles its proud mission," 23 Jan. 2020 One reason was the rise of the gilets jaunes (yellow jacket) protests, which often turned violent and elicited a heavy-handed response. The Economist, "Brutal facts France admits its police are too violent," 23 Jan. 2020 Bakht loves to cook, particularly Indian dishes, and Collins can reliably elicit a smile from Elaan by playing guitar. Sarah Treleaven, Marie Claire, "They're Single. They're Straight. They're Friends. And They're Having a Baby.," 22 Jan. 2020 The play brought many fans to their feet and elicited a series of prolonged oohs and aahs. Edward Lee, baltimoresun.com, "Nakye Sanders kick-starts Towson men’s basketball to 76-59 win at Morgan State," 4 Dec. 2019 Schoenberger said the new approach is designed to mimic the way that infectious pathogens gradually stimulate the immune system, eventually eliciting a strong response. San Diego Union-Tribune, "UCSD’s cancer vaccine trial shows range of results at the one-year mark," 3 Sep. 2019 Corbett said grade centers elicited strong opinions on the survey, and respondents were evenly for and against grade centers, adding that only 8% of respondents were undecided. Rachel K. Hindery, chicagotribune.com, "Elmwood Park schools survey taxpayer sentiment, may use results to craft a referendum," 20 Aug. 2019 The vast majority of those deaths did not take place through mass shootings, which tend to garner the most media attention and often elicit calls for stronger mental-health programs. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "The mystery of mass shooting motives: What if we never learn why?," 8 Aug. 2019 But, college football - like politics - always elicits an opinion. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "Rep. Bradley Byrne on Alabama-Duke, bridge tolls, running against Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate," 7 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elicit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of elicit

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for elicit

Latin elicitus, past participle of elicere, from e- + lacere to allure

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Time Traveler for elicit

Time Traveler

The first known use of elicit was in 1605

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Statistics for elicit

Last Updated

28 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Elicit.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elicit. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for elicit


How to pronounce elicit (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of elicit

formal : to get (a response, information, etc.) from someone

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More from Merriam-Webster on elicit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for elicit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with elicit

Spanish Central: Translation of elicit

Nglish: Translation of elicit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of elicit for Arabic Speakers

Comments on elicit

What made you want to look up elicit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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