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
There's something irresistibly creepy about this story, which ventures into illicit places of the mind.
Some of the failures were caused by illicit drug use, some by prescription drugs such as amphetamines.
VW chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said last month investigations by external law firms haven’t brought any evidence that board members were aware of or involved in the illicit conduct.
In Southern California, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s law enforcement branch is struggling to shut down an illicit trade from south of the border.
Kevin ends up paying the price for his involvement in Gilbert's illicit enterprises after his surrogate father leaves the scene.
A U.S. indictment alleges a former Mexican official stashed $50 million in illicit funds in U.S. properties and bank accounts.
In the same complex, Renee Cook showed me the large swath of her downstairs ceiling that had collapsed and the mold and mildew beneath the carpet, each resulting from a leak from her neighbor’s (illicit) washer-dryer.
The illicit concoction is a blood expander – an undetectable and experimental synthetic plasma that carries additional oxygen and was originally designed for people in need of transfusions.
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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