im·​plic·​it im-ˈpli-sət How to pronounce implicit (audio)
: capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed : implied
an implicit assumption
Still another problem for Middle America was how corporations … were allowed to breach the implicit social contract of the postwar era.Kevin Phillips
compare explicit sense 1a
: present but not consciously held or recognized
implicit attitudes
implicit racism
see also implicit bias
: not lessened by doubt : absolute, complete
There's an implicit trust between them.
The implicit confidence that her destiny must be one of luxurious ease …George Eliot
: involved in the nature or essence of something though not revealed, expressed, or developed : potential
… a sculptor may see different figures implicit in a block of stone.John Dewey
… made a deepfake video to demonstrate the dangers implicit in the technology.Andrea Bellemare
of a mathematical function : defined by an expression in which the dependent variable and the one or more independent variables are not separated on opposite sides of an equation compare explicit sense 4
implicitly adverb
implicitness noun

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Implicit With a Preposition

Implicit is often followed by a preposition, and that preposition is usually in:

"American Horror Story" is a pretty grisly show. No one should be too surprised by that revelation — it’s sort of the promise implicit in its name, after all.
—Lacy Baugher, The Baltimore Sun, 3 Nov. 2016

On less frequent occasions, implicit may be followed by from, with, or within:

[S]uch a ruling seemed implicit from Fullam’s comments.
—Sean O’Sullivan, The News Journal (Wilmington, DE), 4 October 2006

Implicit with the discovery of oil was the hard truth that it wasn't going to last forever.
—Warren Jones et al., Alaska Dispatch News, 1 June 2016

Russia's president was explicit, calling on the West to pressure Kiev to deliver results. Implicit within that was a threat: that Moscow will not play along with the talks forever.
—Sarah Rainsford, BBC News, 14 Aug. 2016

The black dead ocean looked like a mirror of the night; it was cold, implicit with dread and death…
—Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead, 1948

Example Sentences

This assumption, implicit in innumerable statements by President Reagan … dictates most of our current political and military programs. Henry Steele Commager, Atlantic, March 1982
… in the best stories the end is implicit from the beginning. Joan Aiken, The Writer, May 1968
The goodness and strength implicit within Pen unfold but slowly. John DeBruyn, LIT, Spring 1966
The movies borrowed from other arts on the way to finding methods implicit in their medium. Bernard DeVoto, The World of Fiction, 1950
There is a sense of moral duty implicit in her writings. I have implicit trust in her honesty. See More
Recent Examples on the Web This was an apparent contradiction with comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who said hours earlier that there is an implicit blanket guarantee was in place. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 24 Mar. 2023 The vitality of human language, with its endless implicit contexts and nuances, will decline. WIRED, 22 Mar. 2023 This elasticity of acting is a key part of the play’s vision, offering implicit proof that the divisions among us are bridgeable. Charles Mcnulty, Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 2023 The Twitter Files themselves are case in point: Here, Musk has gleefully handed internal documents to right-leaning reporters with the implicit goal of bolstering many of the right’s long-standing grievances about Twitter. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 21 Mar. 2023 There is an implicit but unspoken deal between underdogs and the month of March: Most dreams come with rapid expiration dates. The New York Times, New York Times, 18 Mar. 2023 The comments were implicit knocks on the 76-year-old Trump, who lost his own reelection bid in 2020 and was blamed for an unexpectedly poor showing by Republican candidates in last year's midterms. Stephen Groves, Chron, 15 Mar. 2023 President Joe Biden’s remarks before departing for his West Coast trip included implicit nods to that reality. Mark Thompson, CNN, 14 Mar. 2023 The implicit argument of Wagner’s work is that every larva matters, no matter how small, squishy, and unassuming. Carolyn Wells, Longreads, 13 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


borrowed from French & Medieval Latin; French implicite, going back to Middle French, "complicated, tangled," borrowed from Medieval Latin implicitus "involved, complicated, implied," going back to Latin, "involved, intricate," variant past participle of implicāre "to fold about itself, entwine, involve" — more at implicate

Note: The Latin verb implicāre has, along with other derivatives of -plicāre, two possible past participles; see note at explicit.

First Known Use

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of implicit was in 1613

Dictionary Entries Near implicit

Cite this Entry

“Implicit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


im·​plic·​it im-ˈplis-ət How to pronounce implicit (audio)
: understood though not put clearly into words
an implicit agreement
: being without doubt : absolute, complete
implicit trust
implicitly adverb
implicitness noun

Legal Definition


im·​plic·​it im-ˈpli-sət How to pronounce implicit (audio)
: capable of being recognized though unexpressed : implied
implicitly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on implicit

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