lic·​it | \ ˈli-sət How to pronounce licit (audio) \

Definition of licit

: conforming to the requirements of the law : not forbidden by law : permissible

Other Words from licit

licitly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for licit



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Choose the Right Synonym for licit

lawful, legal, legitimate, licit mean being in accordance with law. lawful may apply to conformity with law of any sort (such as natural, divine, common, or canon). the lawful sovereign legal applies to what is sanctioned by law or in conformity with the law, especially as it is written or administered by the courts. legal residents of the state legitimate may apply to a legal right or status but also, in extended use, to a right or status supported by tradition, custom, or accepted standards. a perfectly legitimate question about taxes licit applies to a strict conformity to the provisions of the law and applies especially to what is regulated by law. the licit use of drugs by doctors

Illicit vs Licit

Licit is far less common than its antonym illicit, but you probably won't be surprised to learn that the former is the older of the two. Not by much, though: the first known use of licit in print is from 1483, whereas illicit shows up in print for the first time in 1506. For some reason illicit took off while licit just plodded along. When licit appears these days, it often modifies drugs or crops. Meanwhile, illicit shows up before words like thrill and passion (as well as gambling, relationship, activities, and, of course, drugs and crops.) The Latin word licitus, meaning "lawful," is the root of the pair; licitus itself is from licēre, meaning "to be permitted."

Examples of licit in a Sentence

law enforcement agencies are demanding stricter regulation of the sale of licit medications that can later be used in the home manufacture of illicit drugs
Recent Examples on the Web The only morally licit treatment of an ectopic pregnancy, for a Catholic, besides watch and wait, is the salpingectomy, on the basis that the demise of the pregnancy is an indirect effect of acting to preserve the mother’s life. Joanna Petrone, Longreads, 18 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'licit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of licit

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for licit

Middle French licite, from Latin licitus, from past participle of licēre to be permitted — more at license

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The first known use of licit was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Licit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for licit


lic·​it | \ ˈli-sət How to pronounce licit (audio) \

Legal Definition of licit

: conforming to the requirements of the law : not forbidden by law

Other Words from licit

licitly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on licit

Nglish: Translation of licit for Spanish Speakers


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