Definition of illicit in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ɪˈlɪsɪt/


Forbidden by law, rules, or custom: illicit drugs illicit sex
More example sentences
  • Drugs are illegal and illicit because they do incredible harm and no good whatsoever.
  • There is a history of illicit drug use while in hospital which had some associations with the symptoms of his illness.
  • Pubs, clubs and people's homes were still the most common places for bootleggers to sell illicit goods.
illegal, unlawful, illegitimate, against the law;
outlawed, banned, forbidden, prohibited, interdicted, proscribed, not allowed, not permitted;
criminal, lawbreaking, actionable, felonious;
unlicensed, unauthorized, unsanctioned, unwarranted, unofficial;
contraband, black-market, under the counter, bootleg;
Law  malfeasant;
German verboten
rare non licet
taboo, forbidden, ruled out, impermissible, not acceptable, unacceptable, against the rules;
secret, clandestine, furtive, sly;
German verboten;
Islam  haram;
New Zealand  tapu


On the distinctions between illicit, illegal, and unlawful, see illegal (usage).



Pronunciation: /ɪˈlɪsɪtli/
Example sentences
  • The United States emerged as the world's industrial leader by illicitly appropriating mechanical and scientific innovations from Europe.
  • Their evidence was very strong as to the suspicious movement of what in general may have looked like illicitly obtained money.
  • She remained there illicitly for some months before managing to leave China so as to make her way to this country.


Example sentences
  • How strong was your sense of its illicitness, the illicitness of this love?
  • We're getting a kick from the illicitness, the donning of scarf and dark glasses and sneaking off for a day's shopping.
  • While Sam seems to enjoy the illicitness of his desire for Marion, his feelings are not truly transgressive.


Early 16th century: from French, or from Latin illicitus, from in- 'not' + licitus (see licit).

Words that rhyme with illicit

complicit, elicit, explicit, implicit, licit, solicit
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.