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

Examples of implicit in a Sentence

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 The legacy financial system of trust imposes implicit taxes on the economy, through bank failure, government bailouts, crony capitalism, and inflation. Korok Ray, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 More interesting, however, was the implicit message his first new monologue built to. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 13 Feb. 2024 Nevertheless, Jokowi’s implicit support has been crucial, said analyst Kevin O’Rourke. Kate Lamb, The Christian Science Monitor, 13 Feb. 2024 Others were appalled by the implicit comparison to his uncle, a socially progressive Democrat who was assassinated in 1963. TIME, 12 Feb. 2024 The film mixes dark humor, implicit social commentary and intense genre elements to powerful effect. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 8 Feb. 2024 These two cases are stark reminders of the relativity of shareholder power in American companies, compared to the implicit power that resides with top management and boards. Peter Vanham, Fortune, 8 Feb. 2024 The Biden administration telegraphed its response over the past week and deliberately avoided crossing the implicit red lines of the Iranian regime — no apparent Iranian personnel were hit, though Iraqi authorities pointed to more than a dozen deaths, including an unspecified number of civilians. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2024 Still, the implacably sorrowing three-note ostinato of the symphony’s second movement hints at Ukrainian suffering not only under Nazi occupation but also under Soviet rule, and that implicit defiance is all the more evident when the Kyiv Symphony plays the piece today. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 29 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'implicit.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 24 Feb. 2024.

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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