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[ih-lis-it] /ɪˈlɪs ɪt/
not legally permitted or authorized; unlicensed; unlawful.
disapproved of or not permitted for moral or ethical reasons.
Origin of illicit
1645-55; < Latin illicitus. See il-2, licit
Related forms
illicitly, adverb
illicitness, noun
Can be confused
elicit, illicit.
illegal, illicit (see synonym study at illegal)
1. illegitimate, prohibited. See illegal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for illicit
  • He would be forbidden to consume alcohol, use illicit drugs, or possess a gun.
  • The goal was to gather enough evidence to halt the illicit trade by putting the counterfeiters behind bars.
  • It soon became obvious that whatever spark they had between them had been kept alive by the illicit nature of the relationship.
  • We applaud this decision, and urge those who engage in these illicit practices to stop driving the prices of textbooks up.
  • That's why companies were so willing to pay off financial aid officials or obtain illicit subsidies.
  • As soon as the he hung up, he felt a pulse of excitement, the promise of illicit thrills.
  • Nor have the prices of illicit drugs-which would rise sharply if the drug war were having any success-changed appreciably.
  • E-mail won't be perfect until it comes up with a secret code for communicating with your illicit lover.
  • It's one of those things that no one can quite explain, though theories- mostly related to illicit activities- abound.
  • Underground poker clubs have the lure of the illicit.
British Dictionary definitions for illicit


another word for illegal
not allowed or approved by common custom, rule, or standard: illicit sexual relations
Derived Forms
illicitly, adverb
illicitness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for illicit

c.1500, from Old French illicite (14c.) "unlawful, forbidden," from Latin illicitus "not allowed, unlawful, illegal," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + licitus "lawful," past participle of licere "to be allowed" (see licence). Related: Illicitly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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