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[ih-lis-it] /ɪˈlɪs ɪt/
not legally permitted or authorized; unlicensed; unlawful.
disapproved of or not permitted for moral or ethical reasons.
Origin of illicit
From the Latin word illicitus, dating back to 1645-55. See il-2, licit
Related forms
illicitly, adverb
illicitness, noun
Can be confused
elicit, illicit.
illegal, illicit (see synonym study at illegal)
1. illegitimate, prohibited. See illegal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for illicitly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A greater volume of trade was probably carried on illicitly with England.

    Union and Democracy

    Allen Johnson
  • The night has a subdued preciousness, like an illicitly pregnant womans.

    I, Mary MacLane Mary MacLane
  • Have you good reasons for supposing him to have been illicitly connected with that girl?

    Arthur Mervyn Charles Brockden Brown
  • It is needless to remark that the only foodstuffs now for secret sale are those that have been stolen or illicitly concealed.

    The Secrets of a Kuttite Edward O. Mousley
  • Jackson County has never had a feud; its chief lawlessness has been the promiscuous sale of whiskey, illicitly, of course.

  • He has a "call" to the little shed at the corner of the street where "arrack" is illicitly sold by a cyclopean Arab.

British Dictionary definitions for illicitly


another word for illegal
not allowed or approved by common custom, rule, or standard: illicit sexual relations
Derived Forms
illicitly, adverb
illicitness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for illicitly



c.1500, from Old French illicite (14c.) "unlawful, forbidden," from Latin illicitus "not allowed, unlawful, illegal," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + licitus "lawful," past participle of licere "to be allowed" (see licence). Related: Illicitly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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