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See also: il·lícit


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Borrowed from French illicite, from Latin illicitus, from in- (not) + licitus (allowed, permitted), from licet (it is allowed).



illicit (comparative more illicit, superlative most illicit)

  1. (law) Not approved by law, but not invalid.
    The bigamous marriage, while illicit, was not invalid.
    • 2008 January 8, Madeleine Albright, Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership, New York: HarperCollins, →ISBN, →OL, page 225:
      Such migrants may violate our laws against illicit entry, but if that's all they do then they are trespassers, not criminals.
  2. Breaking social norms.
    • 1993, Alan Clark, Diaries: In Power 1983-1992, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, →ISBN, →OL:
      I only can properly enjoy carol services if I am having an illicit affair with someone in the congregation.
  3. Unlawful.
    • 2010 July 29, Ian McDonald, The Dervish House[1], →ISBN, →OL:
      Ayşe Erkoç learned long ago that the secret of doing anything illicit in Istanbul is to do it in full public gaze in the clear light of day. No one ever questions the legitimacy of the blatant.

Usage notes[edit]

Licit and valid are legal terms to be compared, especially in terms of canon law. With bigamy, if there is an innocent party, the innocent party is validly married; the problem is with the guilty party, who has entered into an illegal second marriage. The marriage is valid in canon law (and often, civil law), but the guilty party goes to jail nonetheless, in that the marriage is illicit (and illegal), and the innocent party routinely receives a fast annulment and the full sympathy of the court. A corollary is that the children born of such unions are inherently legitimate.

Not to be confused with elicit.


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See also[edit]


illicit (plural illicits)

  1. A banned or unlawful item.
    • 2011, Shane Darke, The Life of the Heroin User: Typical Beginnings, Trajectories and Outcomes:
      A large number of studies, however, have reported that it is rare for the user of 'hard' drugs not to have initiated cannabis use prior to the other illicits.





  1. third-person singular present active indicative of illiciō