Why do we say Illicit instead of Licit?

In Practical, Standard English, consider ‘Licit’

[Latin, licitus, past participle of licere ‘it is allowed’]

Now, Licit is often misused and confused with Lawful; and they are close synonyms. Consider:

[Latin, licet, it is permitted]

Why do we say activities are illicit?

We usually say what we mean and not the opposite.


LICIT: not forbidden by law. It applies to strict conformity to the provisions of law. And that is especially what the law regulates conforming to the requirements of the law.

LAWFUL: permissible; permitted by law; legitimate; constituted by law; valid or regarded as valid [of marriage born of lawful marriage; said of offspring] Having full, legal rights (synonyms include: just, right)


But, when it comes to be law-abiding, Licit becomes clunky.

Most things would, ostensibly, be lawful.

It becomes more convenient to say what is and what is not Illicit.

Illicit is now preferred to Licit in common, American usage.

Author: writtencasey

I am fascinated by the scientific endeavor and I read about or engage with those processes as much as possible. I am a compulsive reader and writer. With a background in anthropology and as an arm-chair/backyard scientist, I hope to improve my writing skills and learn about any areas of weakness or misunderstanding in my analytic skills. I am excited to share. Thank you for spending time here. Please reach out if you are so inclined. I'd be excited to hear from you.

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