elicit and illicit - the difference

To elicit means to draw out or to obtain (usually information).
Illicit means illegal.

The words elicit and illicit sound similar, but their meanings are very different.


Generally, the verb elicit means to obtain. However, it has the connotation of actively obtaining something (usually information). It can often be translated as to draw out, to extract, to obtain information, to deduce, or to construe.

  • Fog always seems to elicit strong feelings of melancholy.
  • His questioning sought to elicit the conclusion he had reached even before the hearing began.


The adjective illicit means illegal or contrary to accepted morality (i.e., naughty)

  • The act seeks to prevent the illicit trafficking of narcotics.
  • We have been told to expect a purge on illicit file-sharing web sites.
Select the correct version:



The first letter of elicit can serve to remind you that it means extract.


The first three letters of illicit can serve to remind you that it means illegal.

Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook Like Us on Facebook
Search Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter

by Craig Shrives Join Our Google+ Circle
Chat about grammar Ask a Grammar Question
Search Search This Site