AskDefine | Define illicit

Dictionary Definition

illicit adj
1 contrary to accepted morality (especially sexual morality) or convention; "an illicit association with his secretary" [ant: licit]
2 contrary to or forbidden by law; "an illegitimate seizure of power"; "illicit trade"; "an outlaw strike"; "unlawful measures" [syn: illegitimate, outlaw(a), outlawed, unlawful]

User Contributed Dictionary



From illicite, from illicitus, from in- 'not' + licet 'it is allowed'.


  • /ɪˈlɪsɪt/, /I"lIsIt/
    Rhymes: -ɪsɪt


  1. Lacking licitness, but not invalid.
    The bigamous marriage, while illicit, was not invalid.
  2. Breaking social norms.
  3. Unlawful.

Usage notes

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 without first divorcing the earlier spouse. 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.


lacking licitness
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