Definition of illicit
: not permitted : unlawful
Examples of illicit in a Sentence
The wedding is mounted in traditional Punjabi style, but underneath the formal fanfare simmer dysfunctional-family tensions, deep dark secrets, … and illicit affairs. —David Ansen, Newsweek, 4 Mar. 2002
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” she said, bowing her head, just as she might in everyday, civilian life, and I felt suddenly illicit in her presence, as though we'd slipped out of sight of our chaperons … —Chang-rae Lee, A Gesture Life, 1999
The companies that carry cellular … have adopted a number of monitoring techniques to detect illicit calls … —Paul Wallich, Scientific American, March 1994
He was arrested for selling illicit copies of the software.
She had an illicit affair with her boss.
Recent Examples of illicit from the Web
The illicit campaign-finance scheme was revealed in 2012 by the Miami Herald.
And, crucially, Dandong is also the source of the offshore financing from Chinese banks that Pyongyang needs to pay for its illicit weapons program.
The office has long been associated with both legal trade and illicit activity, including counterfeiting dollars and drug smuggling.
An increase in overdoses from prescription and illicit opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, means that deaths caused by drugs exceed those from car accidents and firearms.
But under a different set of campaign-finance regulations, the procurement itself may break the law as a type of illicit coordination with Russia.
Avoid baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
In recent years the overdose death rate from illicit drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, has risen much faster than the rate of overdoses from medical narcotics.
Hong Kong, a major transshipment hub for illicit wildlife trading, is preparing to ban local ivory sales by 2021.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'illicit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Illicit and elicit
Illicit, while not exactly an everyday word, is far more common than its antonym, licit ("not forbidden by law, permissible"). Perhaps this is a function of our oft-noted fascination with bad behavior and boredom with rectitude. In any case, illicit may be used of behavior that is either unlawful or immoral. These categories frequently overlap, but they are not always synonymous, as some unlawful activities (illicit cigarette smoking) may not be considered immoral, while some immoral activities (an illicit affair) are not illegal. Illicit is occasionally confused with elicit because of the similarity in their pronunciations, but the two words have decidedly different meanings and functions: in contemporary English, elicit is a verb meaning "to get (a response, information, etc.) from someone," while illicit appears solely as an adjective.
ILLICIT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of illicit for English Language Learners
: not allowed by law : unlawful or illegal
: involving activities that are not considered morally acceptable
ILLICIT Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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