Grammar 101: Elicit vs. Illicit


Elicit and Illicit are words that often misused as they sound the same but are spelt differently and differ in meaning.

Let’s learn about these similar-sounding words to improve your English accuracy and fluency.

Elicit vs. Illicit examined and defined for you


A word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience.

A word that describes a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality.

(a) To get or produce something, especially information or a reaction.
(b) To get a student to provide or remember a fact, response, etc. rather than telling them the answer.

(a) Illegal or disapproved of by society

Extort, evoke, extract, obtain, bring out, derive, fetch, wrest, wring, cause.

Adulterous, bootleg, contraband, illegal, illegitimate, immoral, improper, unlawful, prohibited.

Barry wanted to elicit empathy so he told everyone the story of his fight with cancer.

The officer was confident he will be able to elicit the truth about his partner’s disappearance from the informant

The school fair was a success as it managed to elicit donations from many small businesses in the area.

She hoped to elicit some information from her friends about her surprise birthday gift but failed.

If I can elicit enough support from my older siblings, I know that my parents will let me travel on my own.

Sarah tried everything but she can’t kick his illicit drug habit.

Debbie is having an illicit love affair with her boss and is afraid that her colleagues will find out about her secret.

In school, students are prohibited from having illicit items such as drugs, alcohol and weapons.

I resigned as I couldn’t bear to work for a man who is willing to engage in illicit practices to grow his business.

Jayden stays away from all illicit activities as he doesn’t want to disappoint his loved ones.

Reference: Cambridge Dictionary

Now that you understand the words and know how to use it in a sentence, take our 10-question quiz to test your knowledge.

Scroll down for answers


1. He was surprised his jokes _____ (elicited, illicited) a few laughs from members of the audience.

2. This man is notorious for smuggling people into the country and _____ (elicit, illicit) trade.

3. My teacher _____ (elicits, illicits) feedback from her students through regular online questionnaires.

4. Susan’s green dress is _____ (eliciting, illiciting) positive reactions from everyone at the wedding dinner.

5. Brian’s angry outburst _____ (elicited, illicited) a sharp response from his dad.

6. He is the only king in the country’s history who had no _____ (elicit, illicit) liaison.

7. Millions of people seek and find _____ (elicit, illicit) marijuana online.

8. The couple from Brisbane will face court over _____ (elicit, illicit) drugs.

9. He didn’t manage to _____ (elicit, illicit) any sympathy for his corrupted boss.

10. The police managed to intercept 10 tons of _____ (elicit, illicit) drugs in the city today.


1. elicited; 2. illicit; 3. elicits; 4. eliciting; 5. elicited; 6. illicit; 7. illicit; 8. illicit; 9. elicit; 10. illicit

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