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 Any of these types of objects, in fact, can possess their own fascination and interest, and may elicit from viewers a sense of wonder at their beauty. Benjamin Lima, Dallas News, "‘The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion’ is unlike any other art exhibition," 14 Feb. 2020 Her Ramona, a scheming strip club dancer, is the center of gravity of the film’s cautionary tale—a multifaceted character who’s both glamorous and petulant, and meant to elicit both admiration and wariness from the audience. Time, "The Biggest Snubs and Surprises of the 2020 Oscar Nominations," 13 Jan. 2020 Here are some significant challenges, along with the seeds of possible solutions, that Sidewalk Lab’s provocation has elicited from Toronto’s data experts. Alex Ryan, Quartz, "Can smart cities help their residents without hurting their privacy?," 27 Nov. 2019 The city says the RV encampment elicited multiple complaints from surrounding businesses, including concerns about trash, oil and sewage being dumped and people renting out RVs. Joe Amon, The Denver Post, "A tale of housing insecurity: one couple struggles to move on after Lakewood limits RV parking," 24 Nov. 2019 His comments elicited some laughs from the crowd, but Davidson wasn't done. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, "Pete Davidson talks 'political correctness' in comedy, says he won't perform at colleges," 21 Nov. 2019 Brown’s appointment as dean elicited supportive statements last week from Massachusetts’ top two Republicans, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. BostonGlobe.com, "“Ambassador Brown cannot serve as the Dean of New England Law Boston when his political and moral beliefs are so repugnant to those of the student body and the legal institution itself,” the petition said.," 12 Nov. 2019 Navarro didn’t exactly become known as San Diego’s Harold Stassen, but his desire to hold office began to seem desperate and his futility sometimes elicited an eye roll from political insiders. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Peter Navarro and his imaginary friend become a thing," 20 Oct. 2019 Russell Brown, Portland Public Schools’ chief of systems performance, noted that a handful of the district’s schools elicited big gains from their students and others achieved solid growth. oregonlive, "Oregon school performance ratings reveal shortfalls, successes and, in Portland, particularly stark problems," 17 Oct. 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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Last Updated

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Elicit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elicit. Accessed 26 Feb. 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

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