Elicit vs Illicit

Elicit or Illicit – What’s the difference?

Illicit and elicit are confusing words because they sound identical when they are said and they are spelled extremely similar on paper. These words, even though they are similar, have nothing to do with each other and don’t have similar meanings.

Elicit Meaning and Use

Elicit is a verb that is most commonly used to talk about trying to get a reaction or response from somebody.

The word used to have a different meaning. This meaning is less common, but still accurate. It used to mean draw out or bring out the potential of something.

A synonym of elicit is to evoke, which means to bring to the conscious mind or draw something to the mind. Some other synonyms include educe, extract, and extort.

Cool colors elicit a calming and relaxing feeling.

One internet search can elicit several different results.

Using positive reinforcement is a great way to elicit proper behavior from your kids.

Feedback can be elicited through questionnaires.

He elicited emotions from her that she didn’t even know were possible.

Illicit Meaning and Usage

Illicit is an adjective that is used to describe things that aren’t supposed to be done. The word will be used for something that is illegal and not permitted.

Illicit can also refer to evoking a mood that is related to what isn’t permitted. It can also be used as a synonym for the word illegal.

Unlike the other synonym, unlawful, it can be used to describe something that may technically be legal, but still isn’t permitted because it’s outside of normal morals.

In addition to illegal and unlawful, some synonyms for illicit include banned, illegitimate, forbidden, and prohibited.

Even though she was underage, she tried to sneak an illicit cigarette.

The industry of illicit drugs is surprisingly successful.

In the 1920s, speak-easys opened for the illicit sale of alcohol.

Illicit trading can cause issues between different countries.

Police will quickly confiscate any illicit substances that they find on the property.

Remembering the Difference

There is a helpful trick to help you remember the difference between elicit and illicit. The trick is to think of the first letter of each word and what you are trying to get across.

Illicit refers to Illegal. Illicit is an adjectIve.

Elicit refers to Evoke. You can also remember that Elicit is a vErb.

The words will not be synonyms for each other.

Elicit vs. Illicit

Elicit is not a synonym of illicit. Elicit describes an action while illicit refers to something that should be avoided and is not acceptable.

Illicit can never be used as a verb and elicit can never be used as an adjective.

You will see illicit used more frequently than elicit in the English language. Elicit is usually used formally and in an official context.

Is Solicit Related?

While solicit isn’t a homophone like the other two words, it has a similar ending and also gets confused with these words.

Solicit is a verb and means that someone is requesting something. It often gets confused with elicit because the meanings are slightly similar to each other.

When someone solicits a response to something, they are requesting it. When they elicit a response, they get it.

What About Explicit?

Explicit is another word that gets confused with elicit because of their slightly similar spellings. Explicit refers to something that is stated in detail and clear, not leaving any room for confusion.

Explicit can also refer to something that seems inappropriate to all audiences. When artists release songs with curse words, they will label them with an explicit warning to let people know that it might not be suitable for all audiences.