verb elic·it \ i-ˈli-sət \
|Updated on: 12 Aug 2018

Definition of elicit

elicited; eliciting; elicits
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


play \i-ˌli-sə-ˈtā-shən, ˌē-\ noun


play \i-ˈli-sə-tər\ noun

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Examples of elicit in a Sentence

  1. 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 KlugerTime17 Jan. 2005
  2. 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. BerkeNew York Times Book Review17 May 1998
  3. 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. FoxThe Soul of the Wolf1980
  4. She's been trying to elicit the support of other committee members.

  5. My question elicited no response.

  6. She's been unable to elicit much sympathy from the public.

Recent Examples of elicit from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of elicit

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

ELICIT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of elicit for English Language Learners

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

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