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
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.
San Diego has long been a major corridor for illicit drugs crossing from Mexico.
Lord knows, Trump isn’t above protecting tiny fractions of his wealth through illicit means — the man paid legal settlements through his charity.
The investigation that culminated in the discovery of the collection began when authorities found artworks of illicit origin in a gallery in north Buenos Aires.
Louisville’s transgressions involved a staffer arranging interactions for recruits with prostitutes, among other illicit activities.
The three Meuse peninsulas are nominally wildlife preserves, but their wacky jurisdictional status made them appealing spots for drug trafficking and illicit sex.
Kohut’s illicit pattern dates to 1997 in Santa Cruz County, Seaside, Riverside and Sacramento.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Thursday that the FDA would look at not just opioid drugs’ risks and benefits in legitimate patients, but also at the drugs’ potential for illicit use.
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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