Both illegal and illicit are adjectives that describe things that are against the law and rules. While the adjective illegal describes things that go against the law, the adjective illicit also describes things that are not morally proper. For example, drug trade can be described as both illegal and illicit as it is against the law; however, an extramarital affair is usually described as illicit as it is against morality and social customs, but not against the law.
Key Areas Covered
1. What Does Illegal Mean
– Definition, Usage, Examples
2. What Does Illicit Mean
– Definition, Usage, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Illegal and Illicit
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Illegal and Illicit
– Comparison of Key Differences
Illicit, Illegal, Unlawful
What Does Illegal Mean
Illegal is an adjective that means forbidden by law. Therefore, illegal means unlawful. When someone breaks the rules or laws, that person is doing something illegal. Acting against the law is illegal; for instance, robbing a bank, smuggling, selling drugs, etc. Some people assume that the adjective is similar to the adjective criminal; however, they are not the same. For example, driving at high speed is illegal, but it is not a criminal act.
Let’s look at some example sentences to observe the meaning and usage of this term.
Prostitution is illegal in most countries.
It is illegal to sell alcohol or tobacco to a minor.
Hundreds of illegal immigrants were caught and deported during the month of March.
Their actions were judged illegal by the supreme court.
It is illegal to produce, transport, sell or consume alcohol in their city.
The police found several hard pieces of evidence against the illegal organization.
What Does Illicit Mean
Illicit is an adjective that means not allowed by law, rules or customs. Therefore, it can describe things that are unlawful. For example, smuggling or counterfeiting are illicit activities. This adjective also describes things that are unacceptable and immoral – e.g., an illicit affair. Moreover, when compared to the adjective illegal, this adjective is less commonly used in everyday language.
Let’s look at some example sentences to see how this adjective appears in common usage.
He began an illicit affair with his boss.
The mayor started a new project to dissuade young people from using illicit drugs.
The minister’s campaign was funded by illicit money.
There are reports of illicit ivory trade from several parts of the country.
She was in possession of drugs and illicit liquor.
He sent his sister-in-law an illicit message.
The illicit arms trade is their family business.
Similarities Between Illegal and Illicit
- These are two adjectives.
- Both describe things that are against the law and rules.
- These two adjectives can be used to describe unlawful things such as drugs trade, smuggling, robberies, etc.
Difference Between Illegal and Illicit
Illegal is an adjective that means forbidden by law or unlawful, while illicit is an adjective that means not allowed by law, rules or customs.
The adjective illegal merely describes unlawful things; it does not refer to morality. In contrast, the adjective illicit describes things that are immoral or socially unaccepted.
Moreover, the adjective illegal is more commonly in use than the adjective illicit.
Illegal trade, illegal immigrants, illegal drugs, etc. are some examples for the use of adjective illegal. Meanwhile, illicit affair, illicit arms trade, illicit drugs, etc. are some examples for the use of adjective illicit.
The main difference between illegal and illicit is that illegal means forbidden by law or accepted rules while illicit means forbidden by law, rules, or society. While the adjective illegal describes things that go against the law, the adjective illicit also describes things that are not morally proper.