Grammar 101: Elicit vs. Illicit

by IELTS Australasia — April 14th, 2018

Elicit vs. Illicit: Two words that can cause some confusion and it’s well worth to spend a few minutes to know the difference between the two.

Because “elicit” and “illicit” are homophones (words that sound alike), they are often confused. Some tips on telling them apart.

Click each topic to learn more about the differences between its and it’s.

Elicit or Illicit: the difference

Is a verb: A word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience.


Is an adjective: A word that describes a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality.

Elicit or Illicit: the definitions
  • To get or produce something, especially information or a reaction.
  • To get a student to provide or remember a fact, response, etc. rather than telling them the answer.
  • Illegal or disapproved of by society
Elicit or Illicit: the synonyms

Could also mean (synonyms): Extort, evoke, extract, obtain, bring out, derive, fetch, wrest, wring, cause.


Synonyms include: Adulterous, bootleg, contraband, illegal, illegitimate, immoral, improper, unlawful, prohibited.

Elicit or Illicit: in a sentence
  • 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