Confused Words: Elicit and Illicit

The confusion

The words elicit and illicit can be easily confused because they are spelt and pronounced nearly similarly although they have different meanings.

So what's the difference between elicit and illicit?


The word elicit is a verb that means evoke or draw out (a response, answer, or fact) from someone in reaction to one's own actions or questions.

Synonyms of elicit include:

obtain, draw out, extract, bring out, evoke, call forth, bring forth, induce, prompt, generate, engender, trigger, provoke


  • His remarks elicited a negative response.
  • The teacher elicited the answer from his students.
  • Investigators tried to elicit the truth from the convict.


The word illicit is usually used as an adjective and means forbidden by law, rules, or custom.

Synonyms of illicit include:

illegal, unlawful, illegitimate


  • He sells illicit drugs.
  • It's an illicit love affair.

A list of confused words