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Elicit vs. illicit

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  • To elicit is to give rise to, to draw out, or to evoke. The word only works as a verb. Illicit is an adjective meaning illegal or not approved by custom. The words are not quite homophones, but they sound similar enough to elicit occasional confusion.

    Examples

    Elicit

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    Good incentives can elicit greater effort. [New York Times]

    Psilocybin would be infused into their bloodstreams before a psychotherapy session, tailored to elicit positive memories. [Independent]

    Illicit

    For the curious souls who fall prey to dark influence and illicit highs, it’s easy to get mixed up in a worrying subculture. [Irish Times (dead link)]

    The U.S. also wants Burma to open up to U.N. nuclear inspectors and sever illicit military ties with North Korea. [Sydney Morning Herald]

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    Comments

    1. kenny greenwood says:

      Touché, I have always found things such as this, very interesting. As you seem to as well!
      Touché, indeed!

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