Elicit vs. Illicit
The prosecuting attorney tried in vain to illicit an incriminating response from the witness.
The problem with this sentence? … it sounds way too much like Law and Order. Add a “herein” and a “party of the first part” and my head clouds over with legalese (which everyone knows is not English). Nonetheless, a true lawyer (not an actor playing a lawyer on TV) would know the difference between illicit and elicit.
- Illicit – illegal; wrongful (The DARE program educates middle-schoolers about the dangers of illicit drug usage.
- Elicit – draw out; bring forth (The comedian was pleased that he could elicit laughter from the audience.)
In the “witness” sentence above, the lawyer is trying to draw out an incriminating response; therefore, the appropriate word is elicit.
If you have trouble distinguishing between these two words, just remember that the synonyms illicit and illegal both begin with I-L-L.
Check out more writing tips below…
Search Tips by Topic
- Capitalization: Eponyms
- Comma – Restrictive/Nonrestrictive
- Compare to/with
- Could care less
- Daylight saving time
- Due to
- Every Day/Everyday
- Guess what/I wonder
- Hear hear
- Home/Hone in on
- I wonder/Guess what
Professional Style Monthly Subscription
Sign up to get Professional Style delivered straight to your inbox every month. It’s FREE, and you can’t beat FREE!