Elicit vs. Illicit

Elicit vs. Illicit

  • Illicit is an adjective that means illegal. We're positive that you didn't know that already because you'd never break the law.
  • Here's something else you may not know, you fine, upstanding citizen: elicit is a verb that means to draw out or evoke.

Examples

"No matter how hard the stand-up comedian tried, he couldn't elicit a response from the stone-faced audience."

Tough crowd. In this example, elicit is the way to go because the comedian is trying to draw out a laugh (or maybe even some spirited heckling?) from the audience.

"Darren believes illicit activities are taking place in his mysterious new neighbor's house, so he always has his binoculars at the ready."

Haven't we heard this story before? Maybe in the classic Hitchcock film Rear Window or the not-quite-a-classic Shia LaBeouf film Disturbia? Either way, illicit is the right word for this well-worn plot because it means the same thing as illegal.

"After the robbery, the police tried and failed to elicit information from the crime's sole witness: Pookie Doodles, the family dog."

We bet she was in on it. Here, elicit is the correct word because the cops are trying to get more information out of Pookie.

 

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